O Venice!

From: The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge (1910), by Rainer Maria Rilke:

“…Soon it would be cold. The soft, opiate Venice of their preconceptions and demands disappears with these somnolent foreigners when they go, and one morning the other Venice is there, the real one, wide awake, brittle to the breaking point, and in no way a figment of dreams: a Venice willed into being in the midst of nothingness, on sunken forests, a product of sheer force, and in the end so absolutely there. That toughened body, stripped to the bare essentials, through which the sleepless arsenal pumped the blood of its toil; and the body’s importunate and forever expanding spirit, more pungent than the perfume of aromatic lands. That resourceful state, bartering the salt and glass of its poverty for the treasures of the nations. That fine counterweight of all the world, full – right down to its smallest ornament – of latent energies running ever more finely along the circuitry of nerves: O Venice!

The consciousness of knowing the city filled me, among all those self-deluding people, with so strong a gainsaying spirit that I looked up, hoping to confide in someone…”

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