Pierre Assouline writing in Rilke à l’écoute de la mélodie des choses describes him as cet authentique SDF dont on a pu dire qu’il fut le poète de l’indomiciabilité. [that authentic wanderer who could well be described as the poet of rootlessness (non domicileability or inability to settle in one place).
J saw one of his books the other day when we were passing the bouquinistes by the Seine and pounced on it. His Lettres à un Jeune Poete. Have you read this she asks me. Well, I say, I've read bits of it, quotations.....But you have to read it all, she says, you must …. I'm going to buy it for you. And so she does, slipping the cellophane wrapped treasure into my bag.
The following day I spend a long time in a bookshop on St. Michel. There are so many tempting books but I'm looking for one in particular. First of all I go to the littérature étranger, because what I'm looking for has been translated from Italian. But it isn't there. There are other sections too, recent translations from various other countries, and one that goes the length of one side of the shop and continues along another, Livres de Poche, also translated from other languages. Livres de poches are smaller more popular editions. I feel its so unlikely that what I'm looking for will have been brought out under a popular imprint that I hesitate. Then decide to look, walking along the shelves until I come to M. It took me a while to realise that what I was looking at was, really was, the book I was searching for. The sole and singular copy, clearly, waiting for me. Melania Mazzucco's Elle, tant aimée. (She was greatly loved). This is a novel based on the life of Annemarie Shwarzenbach, and I'm grateful to J for letting me know of its existence in the first place. And the title - turns out to be a quotation from Rilke.
qui recut tant d'amour que d'une seule lyre
plus de plainte jaillit que de mille pleureuses,
et que naquit pour elle un monde fait de plainte,
où tout fut a nouveau: les forêts et vallées,
villages et chemins, bêtes, fleuves et champs.
Et ce monde de plainte eut aussi un soleil
tournant autour de lui comme autour de la terre,
avec un ciel silencieux et remplit d'astres,
un ceil de plainte aux étoiles défigurées -
pour elle, tant aimée.
Rainer Maria Rilke
Orphée, Eurydice, Hermès
who evoked so much love that from a single lyre
more lamentation poured out than from a thousand weeping mourners,
so much, that a world was born out of this lamentation for her,
and everything was recreated there : forests and valleys,
villages and paths, animals, rivers and fields.
And this lamenting world had its own sun
turning around it as ours does around the earth,
its own silent sky, filled with stars,
a mourning sky, its stars distorted with loss
of her, so beloved
[my unpolished translation]
A Year with Rilke blog gives a daily quotation – as well as superb images from Vincent van Gogh, Marc Chagall and others ….