Rilke’s Castle

March 8, 2012 in Uncategorized | Comments (2)



One morning, in Ljubljana, I wake and remember a line: ‘To stay is to be nowhere …’


Between southern Slovenia and eastern Italy lie the Dinaric Alps and a region (Kras) that has lent its name to a kind of rock: Karst, which is typically associated with chalky soils and underground limestone caves.

The road from Ljubljana to the Adriatic Sea winds through sleepy villages













with cozy restaurants












that serve fresh local meat and produce: mushroom soup












and goulash of wild boar, with gnocchi.














The border, barely noticeable, skims by and the road dips down to the edge of the Adriatic Sea before rising towards a castle,






Duino, forever enchanted by Rilke’s Elegies.


Maybe what’s left for us is a tree on a hillside we can look at

   day after day, one of yesterday’s streets,

            and the perverse affection of a habit

that liked us so much it never let go.






A path, named after Rilke,











climbs through the forest
















to the cliff






he used to walk along every day







– in fair weather and foul, says Albert Kos, a Slovenian lover of literature.















It seems right that I am there with Matthias Göritz,









a young German poet and novelist: for him, as for me, this is a mystic mountain, sacred to Rilke’s memory.







This is the time for what can be said. Here

 is its country. Speak and testify…



In one direction the coast stretches towards Trieste,












and in the other, towards Venice.













I think about the magic that allows verses, written in this place,














to speak their way directly into the hearts of poets half a continent away, in Bengal. I think of Buddhadeb Bose’s marvelous translations, taut and resonant; I think of Shakti Chattopadhyaya’s renditions, wild and  hypnotic.

I think of Nirmal in The Hungry Tide  for whom the Duino Elegies are a scripture, a personal anthem that make this






rhyme with this:







Look, we don’t love like flowers

with only one season behind us; when we love,

a sap older than memory rises in our arms. O girl,

it’s like this: inside us we haven’t loved just some one

in the future, but a fermenting tribe; not just one

child, but fathers, cradled inside us like ruins

of mountains, the dry riverbed

of former mothers, yes, and all that

soundless landscape under its clouded

or clear destiny – girl, all this came before you.


(Trans. A. Poulin Jr.: Rainer Maria Rilke: Duino Elegies and the Sonnets to Orpheus).


2 Responses to “Rilke’s Castle”

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URL

  1. Comment by Aubrey — December 4, 2012 at 4:30 am   Reply

    Thank you for each other magnificent post.

  2. Comment by Sunita SharmaMay 10, 2016 at 7:28 pm   Reply

    The journeys – both metaphorical and literal that you talk of are inspiring; so beautifully presented that they draw us -in further and further .. Thank you

Leave a Reply


ucuz ukash