I’m not sure that anyone reads Lou Salome, or about Lou Salome, anymore. The peripatetic Russian psychoanalyst and feminist, born in 1861, was linked to famous men of her age, including Ree, Nietzsche, Wagner, Freud and Rilke, among others. In fact, there was a menage of sorts with the first two, the Poet and the Philosopher, a deep love affair with Rainer Maria Rilke, and a love-filled, albeit (supposedly) celibate, marriage of 47 years with Friedrich Andreas.
She was profoundly intellectual, smarter than pretty well anyone she met, and wrote profusely, in fact being one of the first to discuss female sexuality.
Not a bad bio.
She wrote a poem for Nietzsche. It’s hard to track down, but you can find it in her own published portrait of Nietzsche, thankfully still in print. Ode to Life starts with an affirmation of her love of life, especially its joys and its riddles and its dangers, but the bottom line, after her cry “If you must destroy me”, has to be on a par with Dylan’s “Do Not Go Gentle”. She dares life to “Throw all you have into the battle. If no more is left of joy, well then, give me your pain“.
It’s fitting that she wrote this poem for a man who believed Life itself created its own codes and structures and morals, and that Life was there to be celebrated whether happy or sad or dying.
But it’s tough when you are sad or dying.
Does her challenge that Life should “Give Me Your Pain” help anyone? I don’t know. But it’s worth taking the baton offered by her, and running with it.