Rainer Maria Rilke

RAINER MARIA RILKE, Austrian poet was born on this date (d. 1926); Austria’s greatest modern poet is included here because Harold Nicolson, who knew him, and whose perception generally demands consideration and respect, believed Rilke to be Gay. W.H. Auden once dismissed Rilke as “the greatest Lesbian poet since Sappho.” Since Auden wasn’t on particularly good terms with Harold Nicolson, it’s more than likely that he came to his own conclusion about there being something “different” about the poet. For many years, Rilke lived in Paris, where he was secretary to the sculptor Augúste Rodin, himself supposedly Gay. Since Rodin was an intimate of Diaghelev and Nijinsky, it seems unlikely that Rilke did not move in the same Gfay circle. Cocteau, for example, knew the poet and even invented a story that Rilke had been in love with him. Once again, a good modern biography is needed. There seems to be too much “in the air” to ignore.