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Rilke, Rainer Maria (1875 – 1926)

‘I am far, alas, from regaining my old concentration, despite my belief in art still being the same.’ 

A fine four-page autograph letter signed by Rilke, 29th November 1921, Sierre, Switzerland, to the countess of Gallarati-Scotti.

The poet opens, ‘Dear Countess, A short time after you sent me some words in Munich, I was brought here by a happy accident. I say “happy” with complete conviction: because it gives me great joy to be able to count on your acquaintance over so many (and such painful) years.  As you no doubt realise, my whole life has been forever oriented, due to an ardent collaboration between all the spirits and warm-hearted hearts, towards a disastrous influence. My most valuable work has been interrupted, and I am far, alas, from regaining my old concentration, despite my belief in art still being the same.’

Rilke goes on, ‘In the condition in which I find myself, I accept, with the greatest gratitude, the slightest sign of some continuity might be re-established. That is why your little note moved me to much, because it contributed sweetly to the precious healing rapport without which the world would remain, to me, forever disfigured.’

He then goes on to pose questions about his correspondent’s family, before noting that he has been spending the past two years in ‘hospitable’ Switzerland. ‘And from there it’s easy to revisit Paris — home for most of my laborious life — and Venice, that ineffable miracle….’ He then notes that, ‘for the winter, I shall remain locked up, in the middle of the admirable countryside of Valais, in an old solitary tower, concentrating all my efforts on returning to my work.’

In very fine condition. Together with the original envelope, hand-addressed by Rilke, who writes his return address on the back.

Indeed, Rilke worked through the following winter, and after his long periods of depression in 1921, completed his Duino Elegies during an intensely creative period in February 1922.