The Thomas Merton Center at Bellarmine University

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Author QuotedRainer Maria Rilke
Title QuotedNeue Gedichte
Date (Year/Month/Day)1966/01/28
QuotationI still read a lot of Rilke and Unamuno - with questions and reservations. They are often unsatisfactory in much the same way. Sometimes their intuitions are brilliant, at others merely irresponsible. Both are utter individualists. This is their weakness and their strength. For Rilke: I have no questions about the value of the Neue Gedichte, or the real beauty of the Elegies and some of the Orpheus Sonnets. But I still do not know about the spiritual world of the Sonnets. For a Christian there is always a natural tendency to read such things in implicitly Christian terms and to ensure, therefore, that he understands. But this is lazy. And where the question is once raised - I wonder if I get anything that he says, really! Except that he praises poetry, in poetry, for being poetry. Which is OK. But if this implies a view of life itself "¦ it raises many questions. Yet Unamuno's Agonia is a fascinating, though sometimes unsatisfactory book. Many excellent points - and above all he has a fine sense of the insufficiency of Christian rationalism, activism etc. "Power Christianity." Is he truly Pauline? Was he unacceptable in Spain because he had protestant insights? Indeed in many ways he is like [Karl] Barth.
JournalLearning to love: exploring solitude and freedom. The Journals of Thomas Merton, Volume 6, 1966-1967.; Edited by Christine M. Bochen. / [San Francisco] : HarperCollins. 1997, p. 12
Link to Merton's Copy