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LTAYP+6-7 - RAINER MARIA RILKB and it was all true of me...

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Unformatted text preview: RAINER MARIA RILKB and it was all true of me, word for word” (Letters 1902-1906 p. 98). He had a lifelong horror of machines; he found railway tunnels, ‘ agonizing” and had a “deep dread of enormous towns’ . He often longed for Russia, which Maurice Baring somewhere sums up as “a plain, a church and a mill”. Years afterwards his horror was distilled in the- alembic of Malte Laurids Brigge into descriptions of disease, abjectness, and violence that have t eir only parallel in the depths of Dostoevsky. He had been in Paris for some five months when the correspondence vvith Kappus begins, and the youn man may now be left to introduce the letters in his own modest fashion. INTRODUCTION BY THE YOUNG POET It was in the late autumn of 1902—1 was sitting in the park of the Military Academy in Wiener—Neustadt, beneath some ancient chestnut trees, and was reading a book. I was so engrossed in reading that I hardly noticed how I was joined by the only non—ofiicer among our professors, the learned and kind—hearted parson of the Academy, Horaiek. He took the volume out of my hand, looked at the wrapper and shook his head. “Poems by Rainer Maria Rilke ?” he asked meditatively. He turned over the leaves here and there, glanced through a few verses, gazed thoughtfully into the distance and finally nodded. “So then the pupil René Rilke has become a poet." And I learnt about the thin, pale-faced boy whom his parents had sent to the Military Unterrealschule in Sankt—Po'lten more than fifteen years previously, so that he might later become an officer. At that‘time Horatek had been employed there as chaplain, and he still remembered his former pupil distinctly. He depicted him as a quiet, solemn, highly capable boy who liked to keep himself apart, bore the restrictions of a boarder’s life patiently, and after his fourth year moved on with the others to the Military Oberrealschule which was situated in Ma‘hrisch— Weisskirchen. There, however, his constitution proved insufliciently resilient, and so his parents removed him from the institu- tion and let him continue his studies at home in Prague. Horatek could report no further on the course which his outuJard life had thereafi‘er taken. Afler all this it may be easily understood that I resolved in that very hour to send my poetical @forts to Rainer Maria Rilke and ask fir his opinion. Being not yet twenty years old and barely on the threshold of a profession which I felt to be directly opposed to my inclinations, I hoped 7 ...
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