This essay examines a lesser known poetic cycle by Rainer Maria Rilke (1875–1926): Aus dem Nachlaß des Grafen C. W. ("Posthumous Poems by Count C. W."). Written in November, 1920 (Part I), and March, 1921 (Part II), when Rilke for some months was staying in an old mansion ("Schloß Berg") in the northwestern part of Switzerland, this poetic cycle remained unpublished until 1950.
Aus dem Nachlaß des Grafen C. W. has been interpreted in different ways. One scholar (I. Schnack) suggests that it is a cycle of love poems, inspired by Rilke’s affair with Baladine Klossowska; other critics have argued that the cycle reflects hallucinations and occult experiences; some critics, however, regard Rilke’s text as simple written exercises, a preparatory to The Duino Elegies, completed in January, 1922.
My study focuses on the levels of meaning, the structure and poetic form of Aus dem Nachlaß des Grafen C. W. I have interpreted the poems as linguistic and poetical experiments, in which one can observe a playful oscillation between fictive and autobiographical elements and strata.
Through Rilke’s poetical method in these texts a strange gliding between levels of time and identities is established: a tension, an insecurity, observable i. a. in the intermingling of language; the fictive, pseudonymous count “C. W.”:s naïve vocabulary and coquettish, old-fashioned versemaking is continually contrasted with the main themes and symbolism of Rilkean poetry.
Uppsala: Svenska Litteratursällskapet , 2011. Vol. 132, 107-143 p.