Rilke: After the Fire

  Rilke – deemed Austrian, born in Prague  part of the German-speaking district of erstwhile Czechoslovak Prague , so  of insecure national identity – was at his most prolific between 1900 –1925. His watch-words are: ‘alienation’, ‘lyricism, ‘mysticism’, ‘spirituality’. Heaney show-cases a version of a Rilke poem from 1908. A man whose past has been destroyed overnight  is suddenly alienated from his environment. The poem is pervaded by uncertainty, unexpectedness and hostile forces that threaten the mental health of an anonymous individual. In common with Rilke’s early lyricism the poem starts with personification: startled early autumn morning hesitated taken aback by something unexpected shying at newness. Nature begins to take stock of a perceived gap in the landscape, an emptiness […]