YOU WHO NEVER ARRIVED

You Who Never Arrived

About the poet:

René Karl Wilhelm Johann Josef Maria Rilke also called Rainer Maria Rilke, was a Bohemian-Austrian writer. Conceived on 4th December 1875, Rilke was the only child of a German-talking family in Prague, then a piece of the Austro-Hungarian empire. He was generally perceived as a standout amongst the most expressively extreme German-dialect artists writing in both verse and profoundly expressive exposition. In 1897, Rilke went to Russia, which denoted the genuine start of his initial works. His first extraordinary work, Das Stunden Buch (The Book of Hours), showed up in 1905. But Paris would serve as the geographic focus of his life, where he first started to add to another style of expressive verse, affected by the visual expressions. Rilke communicated thoughts with “physical instead of scholarly images. Rilke thinks about the human regarding the non-human, of what he calls Things (Dinge).” Besides this system, the other imperative part of Rilke’s compositions was the advancement of his reasoning, which came to a peak in Duineser Elegien ( Duino Elegies ) and Die Sonette an Orpheus (Sonnets to Orpheus). Dismissing the Catholic convictions of his guardians and additionally Christianity by and large, the writer endeavored for the duration of his life to accommodate magnificence and enduring, life and demise, into single reasoning. His reputation has consistently grown since his passing away on December 29, 1926, and he is now viewed as an expert of verse.

About the poem:

You Who Never Arrived is a poem of Rilke that is based upon his personal view that a man never finds his one true love in his lifetime. He talks about his Beloved who is within him, but constantly eludes him. Despite his longing for her, he has accepted the fact that he will never find her. In the conclusion of the poem, he says that he knows that his Beloved is out there, somewhere looking for him just the way he is looking for her. But, every time fate intercepts in such a manner that every time they come tantalizingly close to each other, he loses her.

Mood, Setting of the poem:

The mood of the poet is one where he longs for his Beloved but has also accepted the fact that she is forever going to remain elusive to him. He mourns that despite being so close to her he still can’t meet her. The poet is somber as he knows that his want is going to remain unfulfilled. He has accepted his fate but he still dreams about his Beloved as he believes that she is out there, somewhere.

Stanza wise annotations:

Stanza 1

Beloved- Loved one

A surging wave of the next moment- Gushing force of the upcoming moment

Immense images in me- massive pictures drawn within me

Pulsing- alive

The life of the gods- an eternal, immortal living, larger than life

Unsuspected- unforeseen

Elude- escape from me

Stanza 2

Pensive- introspective, lost in deep thoughts

Chanced upon- happened to be upon

Dizzy with your presence- not yet over your presence

Too-sudden- abrupt

Stanza wise explanation:

Stanza 1

You who never arrived
in my arms, Beloved, who were lost
from the start,
I don’t even know what songs
would please you. I have given up trying
to recognize you in the surging wave of
the next moment. All the immense
images in me-the far-off, deeply-felt
landscape, cities, towers, and bridges, and
unsuspected turns in the path,
and those powerful lands that were once
pulsing with the life of the gods–
all rise within me to mean
you, who forever elude me.

Rilke addresses this poem to his beloved. He laments the fact that his Beloved is elusive and he wonders what he could ever do catch her. The poet muses on all the occasions upon which he and his beloved never met, but nevertheless, he expresses his desire to meet her and recounts occasions when he tried to please her so that she would finally appear to him. He says his love was lost from the start. This tells us that he has never met his lover thus; it is not a case of lost and found, but one of hiding and seek where he is continuously trying to find his beloved. Personally, the poet doesn’t know his beloved that well, since he doesn’t know what songs will please her. This tells the reader that the poet doesn’t know about the personal interests of his beloved. So unsuccessful he has been in finding her that the poet has stopped trying to look for her in the ever-changing times.  Everything that the poet is made up of, the whole world of landscapes, cities, and towers that lie within him mean nothing but his Beloved. He says that his elusive Beloved is what his soul is constructed of. Her presence inside him is so powerful that it gives rise to whole superstructures within him. She makes his world and fills it to the brim with power, such that it is like a powerful land that is alive with the life of the gods; indicating eternality and immortality.

Stanza 2:

You, Beloved, who are all
the gardens I have ever gazed at,
longing. An open window
in a country house– , and you almost
stepped out, pensive, to meet me.
Streets that I chanced upon,–
you had just walked down them and vanished.
And sometimes, in a shop, the mirrors
were still dizzy with your presence and,
startled, gave back my too-sudden image.
Who knows? Perhaps the same
bird echoed through both of us
yesterday, separate, in the evening…

Rilke takes the second stanza to elucidate upon his Beloved’s elusive nature. He analogizes her with gardens that he has gazed at with longing, but has never been able to own them. Equating her with a garden projects his Beloved as a picture of peace, tranquillity, and beauty. Described as the open window of a country house, his Beloved is available but unapproachable. She is very close to him, lost in her own musings, desires to meet him, but steps back in the very last moment. Her evasive nature makes it impossible to track her. The poet realizes while walking on unexpected streets that his Beloved has just walked upon the same path, but he has again missed her by a heartbeat. Even when the poet walks into shops and notices the mirrors, you know that they viewed his Beloved just before reflecting back on his image. His reflection appears too sudden, too abrupt, like it doesn’t belong alone, but is complete with his Beloved who has again vanished even after coming this tantalizingly close. In conclusion, the poet is musing to himself that perhaps the same voice speaks within them and tells them the same things, perhaps they both are looking for each other and running around in circles, out of reach of the other. Despite the echo within them being the same, they are not together and remain separate and perennially shifty.

Critical Analysis:

Rilke’s You Who Never Arrived is a poem of two stanzas that deals with his mystical longing for glimpses of his elusive Beloved. The poet here is not shown to be struggling to find his one true love but has accepted the fact that Beloved will forever remain tantalizingly close, but just out of his reach. The poet says that his Beloved was lost even before the start. This is indicative of the fact that he has never met her. But he continues by saying that she resides within him and has constructed a whole world, complete with landscape, cities, towers, and bridges, in his soul. He equalizes her with his soul and credits the power that pulses within him, making him alive, to her. But, he lives with the longing to someday meet her, yet accepting the fact that she is forever going to elude him and that he will never find her in reality. This is in line with Rilke’s belief that a man never finds his soul-mate or one true love in his lifetime. The poet can feel her presence everywhere he goes and is of the belief that every step that he takes, he is actually tracing her footsteps. Feeling her presence in mirrors in shops, on the streets, all point towards this. It can be deduced that such an ideal Beloved exists, not in reality, but within the poet himself. Yet, the poet wants to live in an illusion of knowing that his Beloved is out there, somewhere, but he will never find her. The poets Beloved exists more in fantasy than in reality. This is what makes her this ideal. “Who knows? Perhaps the same bird echoed through both of us, yesterday, separate, in the evening… “, this phrase tells us that the poet might actually believe that his beloved lives within him as the same voice echoes within them at the same time. They are together, yet they are not. The poet laments the fact that he doesn’t even have a lost love that he can mourn because he has never met his Beloved to experience real love blossoming within them. The poet chooses to live with the phantasm of lost love than to not dream at all.

Poetic Devices

Metaphor

“You, Beloved, who are all
the gardens I have ever gazed at,
longing. An open window
in a country house”

The poet has used gardens and an open window of a country house as a metaphor for his Beloved. He looks at exotic, beautiful gardens with longing, but can’t acquire them. This goes to show that his Beloved has the same ethereal air about her, like the gardens, and symbolizes peace, tranquillity, and beauty. Her comparison with an open window of a country house shows how inviting, yet unapproachable she is.

Personification

“And sometimes, in a shop, the mirrors
were still dizzy with your presence and,
startled, gave back my too-sudden image.”

The mirrors in the shops are attributed to the human characteristics of being dizzy and startled. This has been done to show the sudden disappearance of the poet’s Beloved on his presence leaves the mirrors too disturbed and they haven’t yet gotten over the image of the poet’s beloved to actually try and adjust to the poet’s image.

Hyperbole

All the immense
images in me-the far-off, deeply-felt
landscape, cities, towers, and bridges, and
unsuspected turns in the path,
and those powerful lands that were once
pulsing with the life of the gods–
all rise within me to mean
you, who forever elude me.

The poet tries to project a picture of his vast soul by citing cities, bridges, and landscapes. He says that everything that is within him rises to mean her, his Beloved. Her presence within him makes him feel alive, eternal, and immortal like he harbors the life of Gods within him. This exaggeration has been done to create a larger than life picture of his Beloved and conveys to the reader what she means to him.

Conclusion

The writing of You Who Never Arrived by Rilke is such that it portrays the poet’s lost and scattered thoughts. It is an exemplar of Rilke’s versatility as a poet as his construction of sentences and is such that the reader is made of his predicament of knowing that his Beloved is out there but is inaccessible to him. He has accepted the bitter fact that he will never be able to meet her, but will continue being tormented by her incidental closeness. He laments it that he every time misses her in spite of coming so close to her. His use of metaphors establishes that his Beloved is someone beautiful with tranquillity, but is unapproachable. He concludes on the note that his Beloved is looking for him with the same desperation that he has been searching for her. Maybe the poet knows that his Beloved is nowhere, but within himself, but he prefers to harbor the fantasy that she too is on the lookout for him.