It seems likely that we’ll elect a woman President of the United States for the first time ever next Tuesday. This will happen in spite of ….. so many things.
In honor of that historic likelihood, and to urge it forward, our meditation will take a break from the theme of faith (though faith, hope and charity all are needed now!). We’ll focus instead on the poem by Rilke, cited above, which he wrote late in his life. It represents his reconciliation with the female altogether. He wrote it in French, perhaps because the language had connotations of earthiness as well as elegance for him.
At the beginning of his life, Rilke had deep trouble with the Mother, his own mother. She was a narrow, ambitious, possibly psychotic woman who gave him the gender-ambiguous name of René, referred to him as « she » and insisted he call himself « your little girl. » This had everything to do with the death, in infancy, of his older sister, whom he never knew.
Rilke was not that nice to women in his adult years. They found him attractive ; he had lots of affairs ; he more or less abandoned his wife and daughter ; he was emotionally controlling.
So it was an achievement for Rilke, who started his poetic careerthinking of God as « he, » to end his life poetically devoted to the memory of Vera Ouckama Knoop, the inspirer of his Sonnets to Orpheus, and to consider Mother Awareness the ultimate guarantor of the good, the true and the beautiful.
Here it is in the original :
Notre avant-dernier motIt turns out we haven’t strayed that far from faith, in its deepest sense, after all. By what power can he assert that the very last word will be beautiful – and what kind of beauty is meant ?
serait un mot de misère.
Mais devant la conscience-mère,
le tout dernier sera beau.
Rilke is able to stand and speak his logos facing the matrix, the first matter or prima materia, the ground of being as female deity, the sunyata (=womb, fruitful emptiness) that is the very condition for the possibility of speech. Denying nothing in terms of human suffering (the penultimate misery), he can still utter an uttermost word of beauty.
All blessings to all,