The Maier Files | We are the bees of the Invisible
The meaning of this Epitaph is a riddle which has puzzled many of the Rilke scholars. Some twenty interpretations have been suggested ...
Rilke, Poetry, mystic, Rose, Bee, bees, riddle
20117
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We are the bees of the Invisible

Wir sind die Bienen des Unsichtbaren

04 Nov We are the bees of the Invisible

We, the men of the present and today, we are not for one moment content in the world of time, nor are we fixed in it; we overflow continually towards the man of the Past, towards our origin and towards those who apparently come after us. In that most vast, open world all beings are – one cannot say “contemporaneous”, for it is precisely the passage of Time which determines that they all are.

This transitoriness rushes everywhere into a profound Being. And thus all the manifestations of the Actual are not to be used as mere time-bound things, rather are they to be embodied, as far as lies within our power, in that nobler significance which we, too, share. Not, however, in the Christian sense (from which I always passionately dissociate myself); but, with a consciousness that is purely, deeply, serenely earthly, it behooves us to bring the things we here behold and touch within the greater, the very greatest circumference. Not into a Beyond whose shadow obscures the Earth, but into a Whole, into the Whole. Nature and the objects of our environment and usage, are but frail, ephemeral things; yet, as long as we are here, they are our possession and our friendship, knowing our wretchedness and our joy, just as they were the familiars of our ancestors. Thus it is meet for us not only not to pollute and degrade the Actual, but, precisely because of the transitoriness which it shares with us, we should seize these things and appearances with the most fervent comprehension and transform them.
 

Transform them?  Yes, for such is our task: to impress this fragile and transient earth so sufferingly, so passionately upon our hearts that its essence shall rise up again, invisible, in us. We are the bees of the Invisible.

Rainer Maria Rilke in a letter concerning the Duino Elegies.

Wir sind die Bienen des Unsichtbaren

Rainer Maria Rilke
Selected Letters Rilke
Shortly before his death Rilke gave instructions that, besides his name and family crest, there should appear on his gravestone:

Rose, oh reiner Widerspruch,

Lust, Niemandes Schlaf zu sein

unter soviel Lidern

(it’s almost impossible to find an equivalent to Rilke’s meaning in English)
Rose, O pure contradiction,
Desire,
sleep of no one to exist
under so many eyelids
Rainer Maria Rilke
The meaning of this Epitaph is a riddle which has puzzled many of the Rilke scholars. Some twenty interpretations have been suggested …
Only for those who have eyes to see.
Gravestone Rilke

Rainer Maria Rilke – Gesammelte Werke

Rainer Maria Rilke - Gesammelte Werke