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!”

A Diary of the Plague Year: Day 6 22 March 2020: The Deptford Elegies

I have been going through some of my old work and this is fittingly elegiac.

A painting in ten canvases after a short collaboration with a poet in Deptford and reading The Duino Elegies of Rilke. It was an almost impossible task. The poems are so dense and full of imagery which is not really what I do in my paintings. I did notice, however, that the only colour mentioned is brown. This gives an immense feeling of density to the poems, they feel massive. It is curious how just the the words for colours create a feeling of lightness and transparency.


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Books Online: EQUINOX A Little Dodnash Book of Hours

I made the following book as a result of spending a week at Little Dodnash Farm in Bentley, Suffolk as part of A Rural Idyll, an artists’ residency which was the brainchild of Ruth Richmond.

The book traces the changing light on the landscape over the course of the Spring Equinox last year, a poem from Rilke’s Stundenbuch (Book of Hours) and an extract from Bede’s Ecclesiastical History of England.