Gaga for Rilke
Andy Dayton, associate web producer
The writing of Rainer Maria Rilke has appeared pretty frequently in the history of Speaking of Faith. We featured his poems in “The Soul in Depression,” and Krista even included his work in the opening pages of her book.
Recently, though, I encountered Rilke in an unexpected place — on the bicep of pop singer Lady Gaga. In a conversation with Interview magazine, she cited Rilke as “my favorite writer” and, while in Osaka, was tattooed with a passage from Rilke’s Letters to a Young Poet — a series of responses to a young student who had sent Rilke some of his work, asking for advice about becoming a writer. The two never met, but during this five-year period Rilke wrote him 10 letters.
During the interview, Lady Gaga translated the tattoo’s German script into English:
“Confess to yourself in the deepest hour of the night whether you would have to die if you were forbidden to write. Dig deep into your heart, where the answer spreads its roots in your being, and ask yourself solemnly, Must I write?”
(photo: Miguel Villagran/Getty Images)