Brain Food #454

Archaic Torso of Apollo

Daily Brain Food.

Thoughts of the day

‘You must change your life’, said Rainer Maria Rilke, the Austrian poet and writer who often pondered the purpose of existential suffering. In his ‘thing-poems’, he dedicated his thoughts and words to inanimate objects that nonetheless inspired some form of action for his own life.

Rilke encounters a sculpture of the torso of Apollo, the potential remains of a statue. By considering the thing in itself, he also begins to discover fragments of himself. We will never have the complete picture to make the best decision, or to acknowledge what we already know.


Archaic Torso of Apollo
by Rainer Maria Rilke 

We cannot know his legendary head
with eyes like ripening fruit. And yet his torso
is still suffused with brilliance from inside,
like a lamp, in which his gaze, now turned to low,

gleams in all its power. Otherwise
the curved breast could not dazzle you so, nor could
a smile run through the placid hips and thighs
to that dark center where procreation flared.

Otherwise this stone would seem defaced
beneath the translucent cascade of the shoulders
and would not glisten like a wild beast's fur:

would not, from all the borders of itself,
burst like a star: for here there is no place
that does not see you. You must change your life.


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