Dianne and I love each other, we enjoy each others silent company, but we have very few "interests in common." We are both "spiritual people" (she is, and i try to be) but we experience our spiritualities separately and silently and it is only very rarely that one of us will try to communicate his or her insides to the other's outsides. She likes casino gambling while i hate it (material for a long separate post). She would love to do many things beyond her body's physical ability to endure, while i prefer a book or just plain silence. Finding a movie that we can enjoy together is a real challenge. So last night we were watching the movie based on Awakenings
, sitting side by side, enjoying it. Robin Williams ("Dr. Sayers" aka Oliver Sacks) is trying to communicate with Rober DiNero (Leonard?) one of a ward full of Parkinsonians patients using a Ouiji Board. DiNiro spells out something that turns out to be a library reference number with a citation to a book of Rilke's poetry, and specifically to the poem, Das Panther, which turns out to be an excellent description of a Parkinson's patient locked inside his rigid and uncooperative body, Williams reads the poem sitting in the Bronx Zoo outside the panther cage and then to a seemingly non-responsive DiNero.
His vision, from the constantly passing bars,
has grown so weary that it cannot hold
anything else. It seems to him there are
a thousand bars; and behind the bars, no world.
As he paces in cramped circles, over and over,
the movement of his powerful soft strides
is like a ritual dance around a center
in which a mighty will stands paralyzed.
Only at times, the curtain of the pupils
lifts, quietly--. An image enters in,
rushes down through the tensed, arrested muscles,
plunges into the heart and is gone.
-- Rainer Maria Rilke
Sein Blick ist vom Vorübergehn der Stäbe
So müd geworden, daß er nichts mehr hält.
Ihm ist, als ob es tausend Stäbe gäbe
und hinter tausend Stäben keine Welt.
Der weiche Gang geschmeidig starker Schritte,
Der sich im allerkleinsten Kreise dreht,
Ist wie ein Tanz von Kraft um eine Mitte,
In der betäubt ein großer Wille steht.
Nur manchmal schiebt der Vorhang der Pupille
Sich lautlos auf. - Dann geht ein Bild hinein,
geht durch der Glieder angespannte Stille -
Und hört im Herzen auf zu sein.The Panther by Rainer Maria Rilke
(Apologies to abendstille
, The German version was not in the movie, but not knowing any better, i found the English translation beautiful) We both exclaimed over the poem and i commented that the first time we watched
the movie i had only the vaguest notion of who Rilke was. Dianne replied that she still didn't know who Rilke was. So i printed out a couple of my favorite poems or fragments plus three others i thought might be more to her liking. Then who knows, maybe some John O'Donohue, or Mary Oliver or Wendell Berry, and perhaps eventually some Rumi.