Wednesday, May 02, 2007

reflections upon the polished surface

I have my dead, and I have let them go,
and was amazed to see them so contented,
so soon at home in being dead, so cheerful,
so unlike their reputation. Only you
return; brush past me, loiter, try to knock
against something, so that the sound reveals
your presence. Oh don't take from me what I
am slowly learning. I'm sure you have gone astray
if you are moved to homesickness for anything
in this dimension. We transform these Things;
they aren't real, they are only the reflections
upon the polished surface of our being.

- Rilke, from "Requiem for a Friend"

I opened by book of Rilke's collected poems at random and started reading this one this evening. Almost immediately I had that sense of reading my own experiences and thoughts, only written much more beautifully. Lately more and more I feel like music is something that actually haunts us - some visitor from another dimension, perhaps, or a memory from another lifetime. In any case, it comes to us like a dream, but one so urgent it makes this waking life seem like the illusion.

Reading further into the poem, I realize it's a very deeply felt and personal message to a friend Rilke lost - perhaps it shows my peculiar obsessiveness that I most readily connect these sentiments to music, not to any actual person! Still, it strikes me as a very close analogy to my relationship to music - it can sometimes feel like a close friend whom I've lost, but who I knew so well that I am able to recreate her presence on some level. Maybe it doesn't happen all the time, maybe hardly ever, but in those rare moments when this lost person comes alive in me, it makes all the struggle worth doing.

My apologies to anyone who was hoping for the continuation of my audition story today. I seem to have gone all pensive and philosophical instead, but I promise to take it up again tomorrow!


Anonymous said...

These philosophical Rilke posts are tedious and boring.

Anonymous said...

I beg to differ.

Anonymous said...

Keep the Rilke, I say!

Reading some of your recent posts I couldn’t help but think that I would much rather make music with or hear music played by someone who reads Rilke than a guy who spends 10 hours a day practicing orchestral excerpts.

I think it was Heifitz who said anyone who needs to practice more than 3 hours a day is in the wrong profession…