By Rainer Maria Rilke
When I discovered Rilke, I was 20—that tender age when the combination of romanticism and spirituality and philosophy is so appealing. I thought, Oh God, yes. Finally, here it is. I always remember the end of the first elegy. I don't mean this in any morbid way, but at that time, my boyfriend's roommate was murdered; he was the first person I knew who had died. I read the last line of that elegy, "where an almost / godlike youth / had suddenly stopped existing / made emptiness vibrate / in ways / that thrill us / comfort us / help us now?" and it struck a chord.