In January 1912 the poet Rainer Maria Rilke was staying with the Princess Marie von Thurn und Taxis-Hohenlohe at the castle in the small village of Duino, just up the coast from Trieste. It was whilst staying there and walking along the clifftops, that the first line of what would become the Duino Elegies – one of his most celebrated works – came to him.
Who, if I cried out, would hear me among the Angelic
Orders? And even if one were to suddenly
take me to its heart, I would vanish into its
stronger existence. For beauty is nothing but
the beginning of terror, that we are still able to bear,
and we revere it so, because it calmly disdains
to destroy us. Every Angel is terror.
(Translated from the German by A.S. Kline, here)