Loneliness” by Rainer Maria Rilke


Being apart and lonely is like rain.
It climbs toward evening from the ocean plains;
from flat places, rolling and remote, it climbs
to heaven, which is its old abode.
And only when leaving heaven drops upon the city.
It rains down on us in those twittering
hours when the streets turn their faces to the dawn,
and when two bodies who have found nothing,
dissapointed and depressed, roll over;
and when two people who despise eachother
have to sleep together in one bed-

So typical of Rilke ,yet so different in the treatment of the subject.The comparison here is of the loneliness to the rain,not just loneliness but being apart and lonely while at the end of the poem the poet speaks about being together in the bed and experiencing loneliness.At first the temptation is to trace the comparison through the process of rain making but it does not work out exactly.First the vapor from the oceans ,rivers and plains climbs up to the heaven which was its former home and only when leaving the former home,it rains down on us in those “twittering hours when the streets turn their faces to the dawn” .This  is an exquisitely crafted image – fitting beautifully into the It rains down on us in those twittering hours when the streets…The streets which have woken up from their sleep as the birds started twittering and have turned their faces to the dawn .The bodies ,which have tried to fuse together have found nothing and in disappointment ,roll over.

When two bodies have to sleep together and find nothing except despising each other at the end,that is when loneliness is no longer silver slanting rain in the twittering hours but quick flowing rivers . A beautiful poem.

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One comment on “Loneliness” by Rainer Maria Rilke

  1. MCunningham says:

    Thanks for this lovely post.

    Do you know about LOST SON, the new novel based on Rilke’s life and work?

    More at http://www.mallencunningham.com

    Cheers.

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