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The Journal of Literary Satire | Hastily Written & Slopilly Edited
Thursday, December 6, 2007

Rainer Maria Rilke’s Facebook Postings to a Young Poet

by Jesse McLean

Rainer Maria Rilke wrote
at 2:32 a.m. February 17th, 1903

As much as I treasure solitude, your recent bundle of poems brought a much-needed ray of sunshine, followed by a cold front and precipitous sinus relief. The power of the written word never ceases to amaze …

The added bonus of an angel food cake trebled my delight but, in future, you may elect not to bake your poems within the heart of a confection. While hearty enough, the parchment dislodged my bridgework and produced violent dyspepsia. However, I commend you on the icing trim—the kagome lattice of confectioner’s sugar made my remaining teeth ache. With its beauty, I believe.

As to your collection of verse: I am humbled by the trust you place in me but cannot comment on their quality. Such is my discomfort with criticism to say nothing of your appalling penmanship. I beseech you to cease looking outward for advice when your efforts should be directed inward. Now is the time to strive for silence and pray to hear the whispers of your divine muse.

Also, a note on format: you may wish to exclude pornographic illustrations in your forthcoming work. Such tableau threatens the gentle gossamer that cradles your declarations of love. (Provided I have properly divined the intent of your Ode to a Voluptuary, but considering your erratic script I may have that final word wrong, though your sketches leave little room for doubt).

Rainer Maria Rilke wrote
at 4:17 a.m. April 5th, 1903

I have been derelict in my response to your latest collection and for that, I beg your indulgence. My humours are discoloured and maladjusted resulting in a spastic, murky green aura. I fear this affliction has followed me to Viareggio, despite traveling under an alias. Symptoms include a persistent fever and an inability to make proper change. Perhaps distance from that towering genius Rodin will prove restorative enough—you try serving as that man’s amanuensis and see how much sleep you get! LOL!

I notice that your handwriting has improved considerably. I agree with your appraisal that using a rooster’s beak for a quill is counterproductive. But I beg of you, please don’t make good on your threat to undertake writing with a tool thematically linked to your subject—and after reading Passion Scepter Ekes the Essence of Life, I pray you haven’t developed that habit already.

I offer to you, kind sir, a suggestion in the guise of a warning: do not give in to the temptation of genre. Allow the very essence of your soul and depth of feeling erupt from your nib with no care as to form. I would also advise that you refrain from dotting your i’s with little hearts. It tends to undercut the gravitas of your starker war poems.

I have great hope for you, sir. I believe there is a whiff of greatness in your stanzas but that might just be the ink.

BTW—what do you think of my profile picture? Clara thinks I look mean.

Rainer Maria Rilke wrote
at 11:24 p.m. July 16th, 1903

I left Paris some days ago for the vast silence and stillness of Worpswede. I had vainly sought for solitude in that gayest of cities but discovered that President Loubet outlawed contemplation. As a result of the distractions, what began as a couplet assaying the immeasurable weight of Nature turned into a five act romantic farce (which opened at the Comédie-Française to mixed reviews and moved to Baltimore for ‘retooling’).

I received your latest works … So you’re a military student, are you? Do you have an aptitude for your tasks? While the need of soldiers is a dire comment on our world, I do think that military leaders with the spirit, if not the makings, of a poet are rare and, therefore, highly valuable.

I would never consider dissuading any man from setting his thoughts to paper. Until now, that is. If you persist on this course, I beg you not to send me any more of your work; your last attempt at a villanelle caused such a monstrous dose of the vapors that I required three days’ bed rest to recover.

I hope that this does not stem the tide of correspondence between us. I look forward to your letters, in particular the margin illustrations that, when flipped in succession, create the illusion of movement. But again, please abstain from pornographic content, or at least remove any animals from the equation.

Jesse McLean lives and works in Toronto, where he is currently writing the pilot for a Fox sitcom entitled Shakespeare & Marlowe: The Original Odd Couple. Mr. McLean is accepting casting suggestions and dick jokes in iambic pentameter.