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.