Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Gondola ~ Rainer Marie Rilke

In 1920, when the gondola had already ceased to the chief mod
of transportation in the city, Rilke described the results of all this 
craftsmanship in his inimitable way:

"Seven years ago, because the gondola was then still
an affordable vehicle, one always sailed along the canals into
the lagoon, up against the darkening of the sky;  one perhaps
never entered so fully into the medium of the night, as
when one was lying almost flat on the black leather
cushions of this coaxing vessel, the only one that does not tear
a hole in the nights as it presses forward.
However well you know the gondola, its consummate perfection
always amazes;  many of its particular features, its
extraordinary length for example, seem the opposite of what is
required and yet then prove themselves to be unerringly
practical and insightful.  How Venice brought forth this slim black ship
from its innermost nature, a creation, an essence - in the world of objects, only a
musical instrument compares to it, an object whose entire body is
shaped by requirements that reach deep into the invisible, the gondolier
stands there like a sign, like the treble clef, at the beginning of
a line of movement, of noiseless, silent music, endlessly varying and

 From:  Rilke's Venice by Birgit Haustedt

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