I sit here alone, in my early-morning kitchen, reading Rilke writing to Kappus about solitude and dead-end jobs and the elusive beauty of Rome, and I am wondering about all of those questions he asked his young correspondent. The second half of letter 6 is filled with questions, but were they rhetorical or did he want an answer? He did truly seem to want to read more of Kappus's poetry, and now I am feeling, in these two letters, that Rilke had suddenly become more invested in this correspondence. He was not writing only because Kappus required an answer, but because he himself needed to share what he was experiencing.
The description, in letter 5, of his uneasiness in Rome, how "one learns slowly to recognize the very few things in which the eternal endures that one can love," felt extraordinarily close to my own relationship with certain poets--Milton, Donne. But it did not seem at all relevant to my own experience in Rome, which was far more like being swept into a mad love affair with a glorious stranger. Then again, I am a gawky provincial, and Rilke--emphatically--was not.
What were your reactions to these letters? I am curious, in particular, about letter 6, in which Rilke talks about solitude and our general entrapment in "paltry" jobs and preoccupations. Did that ring true to you?