What is the lesson of the poem "Archaic Torso of Apollo"?

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In the poem "Archaic Torso of Apollo " by Rainier Maria Rilke, the poet observes a sculpture of Apollo that no longer has the head and appendages. He writes that despite the fact that it is not complete, it shines forth brilliance and power like a lamp. This inner...

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In the poem "Archaic Torso of Apollo" by Rainier Maria Rilke, the poet observes a sculpture of Apollo that no longer has the head and appendages. He writes that despite the fact that it is not complete, it shines forth brilliance and power like a lamp. This inner light that the sculpture emanates prevents it from seeming defaced or damaged due to the parts of it that are missing. The poet affirms that the sculpture is so beautiful in spite of its flaws that its light shines everywhere, even into your soul. As an observer, when you are confronted with such a work of art, writes Rilke, "You must change your life."

The lesson of this poem is that a work of art such as the Torso of Apollo can be so pure, beautiful, brilliant, and powerful that it can seem as if it sees you and judges you for your inadequacies. This can cause you to fundamentally change and live a life that is more just, upright, and honorable.

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