The legends

Modifié le : 2019/08/06

I was talk­ing to a friend about a beau­ti­ful piece we’re learn­ing at the choir. I told him that the text set to music was by Rilke.

– Rilke ? he asked me.
– Yes, Rilke, the poet.

In front of his doubt­ful face, I under­stood that he did­n’t know him. And to be hon­est, nei­ther do I, not too much. I read his Let­ters to a Young Poet (which I will prob­a­bly have to read again, no doubt, I need them) dur­ing my uni­ver­si­ty stud­ies. Any­way, about Rilke, I don’t know much, but I know his name.

If we could sum up all the beau­ty writ­ten, sung and filmed in this world, we would quick­ly real­ize that we know even less than we think we do. It is enough to recall that old Bach did not have his right hour of glo­ry until the end of the 19th cen­tu­ry when the worms had long digest­ed him. We must under­stand that it is futile to cling to the opin­ions of oth­ers, to run out of breath in com­par­i­son or to exhaust our­selves in clos­ing the gaps in our pride.

Which one of us knows such and such ? The last Gov­er­nor Gen­er­al’s Award, have you read it ? And that Japan­ese poet­ess from such an empire, the one who influ­enced that oth­er monk, remember ?

In L’Hiv­er de pluie, a writer, once my friend, describes a failed writer, mor­ti­fied by a pub­lish­er’s refusal. She rep­re­sent­ed me or described some­one else, it does­n’t mat­ter any­more (it was in the 90s), saw me, in her imag­i­nary future, in jog­ging pants, fat, a lit­tle dog on the end of the leash.

I had trou­ble get­ting rid of this image, the mal­ice of the por­trait because she is some­one who knows how to nour­ish her tal­ent. I think she meant well, at the time, because she thought I was frag­ile, that she loved me, but that she thought I was too eas­i­ly influ­enced by bad peo­ple. She would have want­ed to pro­tect me, and I refused. How­ev­er, that is an entire­ly dif­fer­ent sto­ry. I’m drift­ing. It’s my drift.

I’m here to talk about cre­ation. It can be used to earn a liv­ing and prizes. It can be use­less, except to feed the lit­tle flame that fights with­in itself. Already, it is so beau­ti­ful to feed your embers, and they run on count­less sources for dif­fer­ent uses. The human pot con­tains a dense soup, which boils, some­times pro­duces also poi­sons. And when food is served, few feed on it or are sat­is­fied with it. We’re mov­ing on to anoth­er plate.

I must remain a poet. I could have become a priest, to give thanks with­out effort and to mor­al­ize every­one. How­ev­er, I am addict­ed to leg­ends, and I have addic­tions. I’m just a worm with my head in the clouds.

I’ve been proud for a long time. I still am, prob­a­bly will be until the end. But this is like the rest, it is only, as the oth­er said — you know him ? — beau­ti­ful literature.

And I don’t wear joggings.