Rainer Maria Rilke


In early fall, 2012, the Columbia County Council on the Arts announced a juried show called Poets and Painters. Artists were asked to enter work that was inspired by poetry. The piece I submitted was inspired by an excerpt from Rainer Maria Rilke’s Third Elegy.

Mother, you made him small, it was you who started him; in your sight he was new, over his new eyes you arched the friendly world and warded off the world that was alien. Ah, where are the years when you shielded him just by placing your slender form between him and the surging abyss? How much you hid from him then. The room that filled with suspicion at night: you made it harmless; and out of the refuge of your heart you mixed a more human space in with his night-space. And you set down the lamp, not in that darkness, but in your own nearer presence, and it glowed at him like a friend. There wasn’t a creak that your smile could not explain, as though you had long known just when the floor would do that… And he listened and was soothed. So powerful was your presence as you tenderly stood by the bed; his fate, tall and cloaked, retreated behind the wardrobe, and his restless future, delayed for a while, adapted to the folds of the curtain.

Look closely at the patten and you’ll see that the top half (the horizontal top half) and the bottom half are mirrored, only the shapes are filled in reversed. As daughters, we fight to be different from our mothers, yet as our life nears its completion, we find out how very similar we really are.

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