Diary of the Plague Year: Day 20 4 April 2020: Rilke

There is a really good introduction to the Penguin Poetry edition of Rilke’s Selected Poems by J.B. Leishman.

From his introduction:

…”The notion of a poet as one who just waited for the coming of poetic moods in which he could write “poetically” about “poetic” subjects became more and more distasteful to him. Could he not find some way of practising that precept which Rodin kept on repeating, Il faut toujours travailler? Could he not somehow, like a sculptor or a painter, set himself down day by day in front of his model and, without fussing about inspiration, simply get to work?”

…”All that another poet might profitably try to imitate would be his artistic integrity, his passion for perfection, and his willingness to remain a perpetual beginner. In November 1920, trying, in an earlier and temporary refuge, to achieve that degree of concentration which he later achieved at Muzot, he wrote to an intimate friend:

Always at the commencement of work that first innocence must be re-achieved, you must return to that unsophisticated spot where the angel discovered you when he brought you the first binding message … if the angel deigns to come, it will be because you have convinced him, not with tears, but with your humble resolve to be always beginning: to be a beginner!”