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Poetry Salon with Rilke: Somewhere to the East There Is a Church

April 8, 2021 at 2:00 pm EDT

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Join hosts Isabela Granic and Thomas Arnold to sift our reactions, reads, and interpretations of these lines, including other art it brings to mind.

In this poetry reading salon we will sit together with a very short poem from Rainer Maria Rilke (known by its first line “Manchmal steht einer auf beim Abendbrot”/”Sometimes a man gets up from supper,” but sometimes called “Somewhere In the East There’s a Church”) and then wonder about getting up.

What is the church in the East? Whom do we leave behind if we go there? What must we pursue in our lives? Who might have to pursue a horizon if we do not?


The Poem (translated by Robert Bly):

Sometimes a man stands up during supper
and walks outdoors, and keeps on walking,
because of a church that stands somewhere in the East.

And his children say blessings on him as if he were dead.

And another man, who remains inside his own house,
dies there, inside the dishes and in the glasses,
so that his children have to go far out into the world
toward that same church, which he forgot.


The Poem in the original German:

Manchmal steht einer auf beim Abendbrot
und geht hinaus und geht und geht und geht, –
weil eine Kirche wo im Osten steht.

Und seine Kinder segnen ihn wie tot.

Und einer, welcher stirbt in seinem Haus,
bleibt drinnen wohnen, bleibt in Tisch und Glas,
so dass die Kinder in die Welt hinaus
zu jener Kirche ziehn, die er vergaß.



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