Dread and Bliss

The person who has not, in a moment of firm resolve, accepted — yes, even rejoiced in — what has struck him with terror — he has never taken possession of the full, ineffable power of our existence. He withdraws to the edge; when things play out, he will be neither alive nor dead.

To discover the unity of dread and bliss, these two faces of the same divinity (indeed, they reveal themselves as a single face that presents itself differently according to the way in which we see it): that is the essential meaning and theme of both my books (The Sonnets to Orpheus and The Duino Elegies).

— Rilke, Letter to Countess Margot Sizzo-Noris-Crouy
April 12, 1923

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