Study Guide

Archaic Torso of Apollo Calling Card

By Rainer Maria Rilke

Calling Card

Deep Philosophical Questions… Itty Bitty Living Space

Rilke's works are known for looking fairly simple—he's not a big writer of massive and complicated poems—but containing great depths. The statue itself is a good metaphor for his style; it seems smooth and contained on the outside, but on the inside, it has a kind of hidden light. This poem is just like that: we look at it and think, okay, a sonnet. Sonnets look easy. But then you get inside it and realize that it's a whole philosophical and aesthetic inquiry, all bundled up nicely in fourteen lines. (And you thought sonnets were just about love and the weather—sheesh.) For more of Rilke's work, check out "Day in Autumn" or "Growing Blind."

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