War over a Handful of Corn

Adam Hochschild

‘For the sake of a single verse,’ the famous passage from Rilke runs,

one must see many cities, men and things . . . One must be able to think back to roads in unknown regions, to unexpected meetings and to partings . . . And still it is not yet enough to have memories . . . Not till they have turned to blood within us, to glance and gesture, nameless and no longer to be distinguished from ourselves – not till then can it happen that in a most rare hour the first word of a verse arises in their midst and goes forth from them.

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