Rainer Maria Milke was born Rene Karl Wilhelm Johann Josef Maria Milke on 4th December 1875 in Prague in what is now the Czech Republic but what was then the Austro-Hungarian Empire. His parents had an unhappy marriage with his mother dressing him up as a girl in his early years, in remembrance of the baby girl she had lost and his father sending him to a military academy. He left the academy due to illness and after tutoring was accepted by University first in Prague and then in Munich where he studied art history, philosophy and literature. Whilst in Munich he was to meet his first meaningful love who remained his friend to his death, namely Lou Andreas-Salome, a sophisticated well travelled married woman who trained as a psychoanalyst under Freud. Later during a stay at an artist's colony he met and married sculptor Clara Westhoff and together they had a daughter Ruth. He lived in Paris from 1902–1910 where he mixed with many great creative minds of the time, was introduced to modernism and became a secretary to Rodin who he also wrote and lectured about. Then he lived as a guest in the Castle Duino but his writing was not to fully flourish during the following turbulent war years until he settled in Switzerland in 1919. Here he wrote profusely in both German and French many widely quoted great mystical poems that have left a lasting legacy throughout the world, drawing from existential themes and his extensive travels. He died in on December 29th 1926 after a long illness, which was eventually diagnosed as leukaemia and chose and wrote his own epitaph: Rose, oh pure contradiction, delight of being no one's sleep under so many lids.