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RILKE                                        177

Du bist der Leiseste von alien ^
die durch die leisen Hauser gehn.

Oft mnn ich dich in Sinnen sehe,
verteilt sich deine Allgestalt:
du gehst me lauter lichte ReAe,
und ich bin dunkel und bin Wald.

'AHgestalf implies great and small; and if God as Creator is magni-
fied, as the Created One He is diminished:

Und du: du bist aus dem Nestgefalien,
bist einjunger Vogel mit gelben Krallen
und gross en Augen und tust mir kid.
(Meine Hand ist dir viel %u breit.)

The most devout Christian need not be pained at such relentless
playing with every possible idea of God: since He takes all forms
He fills us not only with worship of His magnificence but also
with tenderness for what is helpless.

The influence of the Italian journey appears in a strange passage
in which Christ and the Virgin as symbols in the paintings of the
Renaissance are mystically interpreted. Typical of Rilke's Wort-
kunst is the new or double meaning to heinjgesucbt in this passage:

Da ward auch die ^ur frmht Ern>>eckfe>
die schucbterne md schonerschreckte^
die beimgesuchte Magd geliebt.
Die Bluhende, die Unentdeckte^
in der es hundert Wege gibt.

Renaissance religious painting was the "Tree of God' whose bran-
ches in those days spread blossoming over Italy. Rilke comes
nearest to the fourteenth-century mystics in his conception of God
as the Tree of Life; but whereas the medieval mystics allegorized
the Tree as rising from the roots of repentance, confession, and
penance to the joys of Paradise, to Rilke Tree and God are one -
*ein Gewebe von hundert Wur^eln^ welche scbweigsam trinken'i and the
divine essence which permeates the world is the sap of the Tree.
In this Renaissance passage the Virgin is figured as the Fruit of
the Tree; but all the gorgeous Mariolatry of the great painters
was vain; for She (the confusion of images is to be expected in