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The Rarity of the Gesture of Small Flowers

  • Harold Schweizer

Abstract

Rilke’s demand that the aspiring poet “know the gesture of small flowers” implies a gentle, Kantian knowing. Analogous to the kinship that Elaine Scarry finds between rarity and mental images, I find a kinship between the gesture of flowers and the gesturing of poems. A poem gestures rather than means or represents; it does not produce knowledge. It is a shade, an intimation, a resonance. As Alain Badiou writes in terms that echo both Kant and the subtractions of rarity: “at the farthest remove from knowledge, the poem is exemplarily a thought that is obtained in the retreat, or the defection, of everything that supports the faculty to know.” If such a poem gestures rather than means, it requires not interpretation but attention.

Keywords

Open Window Small Flower Great Patience Romantic Idealism Mute Fate 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  1. 1.
    Georg Büchner, “Lenz” in Werke und Briefe (München: dtv, 1969), 72.Google Scholar
  2. 8.
    Adam Zagajewski, “Introduction: Rereading Rilke” in The Poetry of Rilke, trans. Edward Snow (New York: North Point Press, 2009), xix.Google Scholar
  3. 23.
    Gerald L. Bruns, Maurice Blanchot: The Refusal of Philosophy (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1997), 96.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Harold Schweizer 2016

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  • Harold Schweizer

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