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Unread 09-01-2019, 12:46 AM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
Join Date: Mar 2017
Location: TX
Posts: 4,850

Hi Julie,

Yes, I agree that for centuries, black has been much worn by Mediterranean women who lost basically any family member, and for the rest of their lives. However, I don't think Rilke is picturing his sibyl in the Christian era to begin with. The term sibyl is heavily freighted with Classical weight, is about the best argument I can provide. Rilke would have to do violence to that tradition to resituate her. OTOH, his conception of what qualifies as ausgebrannt where skin is concerned might not correlate entirely with our own. That is my little point. I don't think it likely that ausgebrannt refers here to clothing.

Cheers, good discussion,
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Unread 09-02-2019, 09:00 AM
Susan McLean Susan McLean is offline
Join Date: Jul 2001
Location: Iowa City, IA, USA
Posts: 8,103

Julie, "schwarz" can mean "black" or "dark." I chose "as blackened as" partly for the rhythm and partly to imply that she did not start out that color. I am trying to think of an alternative, but so far, nothing has occurred to me. I do not think we should see the sibyl as demented, but as possessed by the spirit of prophecy, which forces her to shout out her predictions against her will. And I definitely think that this poem is set in the ancient world, not in the Christian world, so modern images of Mediterranean dress are not relevant. What she is wearing is not specified. I do think Rilke implies that she looks crazed, but the prophecies were taken seriously in ancient times.

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Unread 09-02-2019, 11:50 AM
Julie Steiner's Avatar
Julie Steiner Julie Steiner is offline
Join Date: Feb 2003
Location: San Diego, CA, USA
Posts: 6,053

Thanks, Susan and John! You two are amazingly patient with my combination of stubbornness and ignorance. I really appreciate your taking the time to set me straight in such an enjoyable way.
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