The Scent of Autumn Earth

“September 13, 1907 (Friday) . . . never has heather so touched and almost thrilled me as recently, when I found those three twigs in your sweet letter. Since then they have been lying in my Book of Pictures and have permeated it with their strong stern odor, which is really only the scent of autumn earth. How glorious it is, though, that fragrance. Never, it seems to me, can the earth be thus inhaled in a single smell, the ripe earth; in a smell that means no less than the smell of the sea, bitter where it borders on taste, and more than honey- sweet where one feels it must be impinging on the beginnings of tone. Containing depth within it, darkness, the grave almost, and yet again wind too; tar and turpentine and Ceylon tea. Serious and shabby like the smell of a begging friar and yet again resinous and hearty like costly frankincense…”
Reiner Maria Rilke, “Letters on Cezanne,” translated by Jane Bannard Greene and M.D. Herter Norton

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12 Responses to The Scent of Autumn Earth

  1. Don says:

    This is beautiful Monika. There’s a sensuality and perceptiveness here that touches one deeply. Rilke’s soul just does this to you. It’s sheer beauty expressed in words, but goes well beyond words. Thank you.

  2. I loved this. There is no one quite like Rilke for mining and offering quintessence …

  3. 1weaver says:

    this kind of description made me think of an oenophile, describing a wine (which I hear a lot – and chime in, too! – here). thank goodness for the deeply observant who record impressions of the ‘mundane’. scent is SO imbedded in our psyche.

  4. Jeff Japp says:

    Nice! Hope you had a blessed Mabon.

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