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Carl Jung:  Letter to Rainer Maria Rilke

letters Vol. II

To Ellen Gregori

Dear Fraulein Gregori, 3 August 1957

I have read with much interest your essay on “Rilke’s Psychological Knowledge in the Light of Jungian Theory.”

Your argument and the beautiful quotations make it very clear that Rilke drew from the same deep springs as I did-the collective unconscious.

He as a poet or visionary, I as a psychologist and empiricist.

I hope you will allow me-as a token of my esteem for your work-to add a few remarks that came into my head as I was reading.

I cannot escape the feeling that for all his high poetic gifts and intuition Rilke was never quite a contemporary.

Of course poets are timeless phenomena, and the lack of modernity in Rilke is a badge of genuine poetry-craft.

Often he reminds me of a medieval man: half troubadour, half monk.

His language and the form he gave his images have something transparent about them, like the windows of Gothic cathedrals.

But he doesn’t have what it takes to make a man complete: body, weight, shadow.

His high ethos, his capacity for abnegation, and perhaps also his physical frailty naturally led him towards a goal of completeness, but not of perfection.

Perfection, it seems to me, would have broken him.

I wish somebody could be found who would set the inner and outer data of this life in order and interpret it with the necessary psychological understanding.

It would certainly be well worth doing.

Again with best thanks for your essay and kind regards,

Yours sincerely,

C.G. Jung ~Carl Jung, Letters Vol. II, Pages 381-382.