Rainer Maria Rilke was known for his “mystical” poetry that dealt with beautifully obtuse metaphors for life and love, so its little surprise that the epitaph he chose before he died is just as abstract.
Born in 1875, Rilke enjoyed a stintingly successful writing career right up until his unfortunate death of leukemia in 1926. The poet passed away in a sanitarium which he had been staying in due to bouts of extreme depression. Prior to his death, Rilke wrote his own epitaph which reads (translated from the German):
Rose, oh pure contradiction, delightof being no one’s sleep under somany lids.
The short, poetic lines adorn his headstone, located in a Raron, Switzerland churchyard, to this day. The simple headstone is surrounded by a short-walled rose garden, as the popular myth exists that Rilke pricked his finger on a rose and it was this tiny wound that contracted an incurable infection which would in turn ravage his entire body. A fittingly poetic story about one of poetry’s greats.