Quotes By Duino Elegies and The Sonnets to Orpheus

“Praise the world to the angel, not what can’t be talked about.
You can’t impress him with your grand emotions. In the grand cosmos
where he so intensely feels, you’re just a novice. So show
him some simple thing shaped for generation after generation
until it lives in our hands and in our eyes, and it’s ours.
Tell him about things. He’ll stand amazed, just as you did
beside the ropemaker in Rome or the potter on the Nile.
Show him how happy a thing can be, how innocent and ours;
how even grief’s lament purely determines its own shape,
serves as a thing, or dies in a thing — and escapes
In ecstasy beyond the violin.”

“But if the endlessly dead awakened a symbol in us,
perhaps they would point to the catkins hanging from the
branches of the hazel-trees, or
would evoke the raindrops that fall onto the dark earth in

And we, who have always thought
of happiness as rising, would feel
the emotion that almost overwhelms us
whenever a happy thing falls.”

“Though he works and worries, the farmer
never reaches down to where the seed turns
into summer. The earth grants.”

“Temples are no longer known. It is we who secretly save up
these extravagances of the heart. Where one of them still
a Thing that was formerly prayed to, worshipped, knelt
just as it is, it passes into the invisible world.
Many no longer perceive it, yet miss the chance
to build it inside themselves now, with pillars and statues:

“Truly being here is glorious.”

“If you were to give yourself over to this angel, Rilke tells the reader, some day, some night, the angel’s light hands kämen denn … dich ringender zu prüfen, und gingen wie Erzürnte durch das Haus und griffen dich als ob sie dich erschüfen und brächen dich aus deiner Form heraus. would come more fiercely to interrogate you, and rush to seize you blazing like a star, and bend you as if trying to create you, and break you open, out of who you are.”

“This, a world seen no longer from the human point of view, but inside the angel, is perhaps my real task.”