Il poeta e la principessa

Marino Freschi


France was Rilke's second home-country, but Italy has also been a reference point throughout Rilke's life. This was the case since his youth, when he dwelled at length in Venice, Rome, Naples, Capri and ---obviously--- Duino. Significant was also Rilke's acquaintance with Italian poetry. During the last months of his life he got in touch with Marguerite Caetani, princess of Bassiano, with whom he was linked by sympathy and mutual appreciation. They met in February 1925 when Hofmannsthal visited Paris and was invited by the princess to Versailles. After this meeting the princess invited Rilke to join the journal "Commerce", which was published "unter dem Protektorat von der Fürstin Bassiano" and on which also Paul Valéry collaborated. Rilke was again a guest of the princess on May the 23rd, together with Hofmannsthal, Valéry, Claudel, Schlözer and the prince himself. In June 1926 Rilke wrote about him in an extremely positive way: "He is a man of the purest nature, who deserves his noble origin". If he had not died so early, in December 1926, Rilke's connection to the Caetani would have meant a new chapter in his relation to Italy within the framework of his cosmopolitan exchanges. Last, it is noteworthy that Rilke's connection to his aristocratic patrons (Alice Faehndrich, Maria Thurm und Taxis and the Caetani princess) favoured his contact to Italy but did not lead him any closer to the Italian people, unlike what had happened with Goethe and Hesse. In this sense, Rilke remained consistent with his poetical mission of detachment and loneliness, completely dedicated to his life's vocation.


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