contemplating a sunset with…rilke

isolation retreat 72nd day

breaking through

excerpt from Rainer Maria Rilke’s Letters to a Young Poet. Trans: MD Herter Norton

“I want to talk to you again… You have had many and great sadnesses, which passed. And you say that even this passing was hard for you and put you out of sorts. But, please, consider whether these great sadnesses have not rather gone right through the center of yourself? Whether much in you has not altered, whether you have not somewhere, at some point of your being, undergone a change while you were sad? Only those sadnesses are dangerous and bad which one carries about among people in order to drown them out; like sicknesses that are superficially and foolishly treated they simply withdraw and after a little pause break out again the more dreadfully; and accumulate within one and are life, are unloved, spurned, lost life, of which one may die. Were it possible for us to see further than our knowledge reaches, and yet a little way beyond the outworks of our divining, perhaps we would endure our sadnesses with greater confidences than our joys. For they are moments when something new has entered into us, something unknown; our feelings grow mute in shy perplexity, everything in us withdraws, a stillness comes, and the new, which no one knows, stands in the midst of it and is silent. …”

skycape photography: breaking through Nikon D750 f/8 1/80s 190mm 400 ISO edited in Capture One

we are solitary

Stay at Home Order … day 4 plus 14 seclusion retreat days

photo assignment: same lens (35mm) camera wide open (f/1.8) … 25th day

He never came —

the wind too tells

how the night has worn away,

while mournfully the cries of wild geese

approach and pass on ~Saigō (cited: B Watson, Poems of a Mountain Home)

Nikon D750 f/1.8 1/4000s 35mm 200 ISO

“And to speak of solitude again, it becomes always clearer that this is at bottom not something that one can take or leave. We are solitary. We may delude ourselves and act although this were not so. That is all. But how much better it is to realize that we are so, yes, even to begin by assuming it. … A person removed from his own room, almost without preparation and transition, and set upon the height of a great mountain range, would feel something of the sort: an unparalleled insecurity, and abandonment to something inexpressible would almost annihilate him. He would think himself falling or hurled out into space, or exploded into a thousand pieces… So for him who becomes solitary all distances, all measures of change; of these changes many take place suddenly, and then, as with the man on the mountaintop, extraordinary imaginings and singular sensations arise that seem to grow out beyond all bearing. …” (cited Rainer Maria Rilke, Trans: M D Herter Norton, Letters to a Young Poet)

variations on a theme

seclusion retreat … 10th day

The loneliness

of my ramshackle

grass hut,

where no one but the wind

comes to call (Saigyō Trans: B Watson, Poems of a Mountain Home)

Nikon D750… f/1.8 1,2000s 38mm 200 ISO

“One can live without coffee and without cigarettes, Liesl said rebelliously, but not without nature, that’s impossible, no one should be allowed to deprive you of that. I said, ‘Think of it as if we’d got to spend a prison sentence here, for a few years perhaps, and learn to look at the couple of trees over there across the road as if they were a forest. …” (Etty Hillesum, Trans: A Pomerans, An Interrupted Life The Diaries of Etty Hillesum 1941-1943. pg. 127)

Nikon D750… f/1.8 1,2000s 38mm 200 ISO

“… Were it possible for us to see further than our own knowledges reaches, and yet a little way beyond the outworks of our divining, perhaps we would endure our sadnesses with greater confidences than our joys. For they are the moments when something new has entered into us, something unknown, our feelings grow more mute in shy perplexity, everything in us withdrawn, a stillness comes, and the new, which no one knows, stands in the midst of it and is silent. …” (Rainer Maria Rilke Trans: M D Herter Norton, Letters to a Young Poet. pg.40

Nikon D750… f/1.8 1,2000s 38mm 200 ISO

a lone

on a tree standing

by the cliff in an old farm

a dove –

how lonely his voice

calling for a friend this evening

~ Saigyō (cited: Makoto Ueda, Far Beyond the Field)

“Of course you must know that every letter of yours will always give me pleasure, and only beat with the answer which will perhaps often leave you empty handed; for at bottom, and just in the deepest and most important things, we are unutterably alone…” Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet.

winter’s eve

“…seek those which your own everyday life offers you, describe your sorrows and desires, passing thoughts and the belief in some sort of beauty–describe all these with loving, quiet, humble sincerity, and use, to express yourself, the things in your environment, the images from your dreams, and the objects of your memory. If your daily life seems poor, do not blame it: blame yourself, tell yourself that you are not poet enough to call forth its riches, for to the creator there is no poverty, and no poor indifferent place.”

cited: Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet – pp 16-17 (trans: M D Herter Norton)

I’ve been rather absent for a time as I was captured by a creative need to compile some images and writings into a photo book. I invite you to preview, Unseeded, a photo book inspired by two amazing women.

May you have a wondrous Winter’s Eve.