Rainer Maria Rilke: Poems

Winged Rook Delights in the Rain: Plath and Rilke on Everyday Miracles College

In her 1960 poem “Black Rook in Rainy Weather,” American-born Sylvia Plath relays the feeling that a miracle has alighted in the form of a black rook. The bird’s beauty takes her off guard in a preternatural way on an otherwise dreary day, and she momentarily feels a connection with the natural and the supernatural. Generations earlier, in 1924, Austro-German writer Rainer Maria Rilke wrote of the need to believe in this sort of miracle in his poem “Just as the Winged Energy of Delight.” Rilke implores the reader to be open to the celestial with a childlike heart and look for miracles in the ordinary patterns of life. Plath’s and Rilke’s poems both incorporate the theme of God communicating with human beings through commonplace objects and experiences. Plath apprises the reader of one particular chance encounter with the miraculous, while Rilke takes a more proactive approach to encountering, and even creating, miracles.

The protagonist’s mood in “Black Rook in Rainy Weather” is characterized by the rain. She walks through the day in a state of “total neutrality” while “Trekking stubborn through this season / Of fatigue.” She has grown tired and world-weary. She says she does “not expect miracle,” but then goes on to say “Any...

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