Daily Archives: January 20, 2006


So, having finished The Accident, I picked up my worn copy of The Selected Poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke. I tried yet again to get all the way through the interminable Robert Hass introduction. Failed.

But did re-read one of my favorite favorite poems, not just favorite Rilke but one of my favorites of any poet:

Autumn Day

Lord: it is time. The huge summer has gone by.
Now overlap the sundials with your shadows,
and on the meadows let the wind go free.

Command the fruits to swell on tree and vine;
grant them a few more warm transparent days,
urge them on to fulfillment then, and press
the final sweetness into the heavy wine.

Whoever has no house now, will never have one.
Whoever is alone will stay alone,
will sit, read, write long letters through the evening,
and wander the boulevards, up and down,
restlessly, while the dry leaves are blowing.

Translated by Stephen Mitchell
The Selected Poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke
Vintage International Edition, March 1989
ISBN 0-679-72201-7


I finished The Accident yesterday. I wish I had liked it more, as I wish I had liked Dawn more. Night is easily the best of the three, its simple narrative much more powerful and affecting than the self-conscious philosophical arguments that dominate the other two.

That’s not to say that there’s nothing at all in the other two. Dawn is amazing in its own way, especially after I didn’t believe throughout the entire book that Elisha would go through with it.

And there’s absolutely no denying the power of the scene with the French prostitute in The Accident, although her screaming at him that he’s a madman when he declares her a saint just didn’t ring true for me. Maybe it was the translation? I don’t know. I understood the power of the scene more than I felt like it was a true scene.