Given the extremely restless spirit that kept Rilke in a state of wanderlust most of his life, it's no real surprise that one should have trouble "finding" him in any single location (particularly in our contemporary Europe) the way one "finds" Faulkner at Rowan Oak or Jane Austen in Bath. So as I traveled country to country in the poet's footsteps, I often found my research centering upon impressionistic stimuli: the character of a place or the quality of its light or the very specific sense that would be stirred in a sheltered little boy while, clinging to his mother's hand, he walked past these innumerable stone-carved faces of Prague.
One night during my stay in the Valais, I drove from my hotel in the nearby village of Sierre out through the vineyards to Muzot. I parked and walked up and down the road, staring through the darkness at the tower. It was the third time in two days that I had driven there for no other reason than to walk about and stare, but it was my first time coming by night, and there was something very special about being at Muzot in the dark. In that night-graced tower Rilke had crowned his lifelong poetic accomplishment with the completion, during a single month, of the marvelous Sonnets to Orpheus and the mystic Duino Elegies. Muzot is still a private residence, owned by descendants of the Rilke patron who purchased the place for the poet in 1922. Inside, the tiny rooms remain furnished exactly as Rilke left them. The sutural windows glowed yellow that night.