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This article is taken from PN Review 60, Volume 14 Number 4, March - April 1988.

The Family Reunion (translated by John Hoare) Rainer Maria Rilke

After Mass, the priest of Maria-Schnee descended the four steps from the altar, faced about and knelt down behind the screen. He searched the many folds of his vestment for a handkerchief, blew a deep and reverent organ note of C and began: 'Let us pray for Herr Anton von Wick, Imperial counsellor, who is at rest in the Lord. Lord, grant Thy grace to Thy faithful servant Antonius . . .'

In the front pew Herr Stanislaus von Wick, brother to the faithful servant Antonius, dead these eight years, rose to his feet and blew his emotion into his handkerchief. When the requiem Mass was over, Herr Stanislaus, as head of the family, led the way and behind him two women clad in black slipped out of the dark pews. On the street he gave his arm to his sister, the old widow of Major Richter, and the others followed two by two. No one spoke. Everyone's eyes were dazzled by the light and looked as if they had been crying, and everyone was yawning from hunger and boredom. The family was to lunch with Frau Irene, the daughter of the late Herr Anton, now the widow Horn, née von Wick. The major's widow strode out at a speed which accorded with her corpulence as badly as did her impatience with the funereal pace of her stiff brother. Herr Stanislaus took note of the worldly and sensual striving of her feet and said in admonition: 'Poor ...


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