Word Swag and Some Rilke

Good morning everyone — a short coffee post to share a great iPhone/iPad app for creating custom text layouts for social media.  Word Swag has been around for awhile, but I used it for the first time yesterday. I’m a big Photoshop user, and have been going back to version 5.5 in the late nineties. I love Photoshop . . . and I’ve taught college students how to use it for years.

But Word Swag is an easy-to-use app that does its job beautifully, and it means I can be out with only my iPad and capable of producing and uploading social media content very easily.

My first Word Swag image.
My first Word Swag image.

There are several other similar apps that might interest you, too, described here on Social Quant, and if you are want a quick tutorial on how to use Word Swag, try this one by Brian G. Johnson.

As an aside, you may hear it said that Word Swag can be used to produce memes. Richard Dawkins coined the word meme in his book, The Selfish Gene, to describe how information spreads in a culture. “While such an image may display an existing meme, or . . . may [itself] even eventually become a meme, it does not qualify as one until it reaches approximately the same level of mass recognition as required for a person to be considered a celebrity.” ** The long and the short of it is this. You may produce a great image and text combination, perhaps an original saying or idea, or a really strong combination of a quote, an image, and layout, but unless it goes viral on an extraordinary level, you have not created a meme.

I chose a quote from Rainer Maria Rilke to create my first Word Swag image. He was born in Prague in 1875 and wrote his poetry in German. Rilke died in Switzerland in 1926. I thought I’d end this morning post by sharing three of his poems. I find his imagery a wonderful way to either start or end a day.

 *   *   *   *   *
Black Cat
Black Cat. Photograph by Ann Fisher.
Black Cat. Photograph by Ann Fisher.

A ghost, though invisible, still is like a place
your sight can knock on, echoing; but here
within this thick black pelt, your strongest gaze
will be absorbed and utterly disappear:

just as a raving madman, when nothing else
can ease him, charges into his dark night
howling, pounds on the padded wall, and feels
the rage being taken in and pacified.
She seems to hide all looks that have ever fallen
into her, so that, like an audience,
she can look them over, menacing and sullen,
and curl to sleep with them.
But all at once

as if awakened, she turns her face to yours;
and with a shock, you see yourself, tiny,
inside the golden amber of her eyeballs
suspended, like a prehistoric fly.

— Rainer Maria Rilke


Sunset and trees. Image from Pixabay.
Sunset and trees. Image from Pixabay.

Slowly the west reaches for clothes of new colors
which it passes to a row of ancient trees.

You look, and soon these two worlds both leave you
one part climbs toward heaven, one sinks to earth.
leaving you, not really belonging to either,
not so hopelessly dark as that house that is silent,
not so unswervingly given to the eternal as that thing
that turns to a star each night and climbs–

leaving you (it is impossible to untangle the threads)
your own life, timid and standing high and growing,
so that, sometimes blocked in, sometimes reaching out,
one moment your life is a stone in you, and the next, a star.

— Rainer Maria Rilke

Thompson's Gazelles in Ngorongoro Crater Tanzania, Africa. From iStock Photo
Thompson’s Gazelles in Ngorongoro Crater Tanzania, Africa. From iStock Photo
The Gazelle

Gazella Dorcas.

Enchanted thing: how can two chosen words
ever attain the harmony of pure rhyme
that pulses through you as your body stirs?
Out of your forehead branch and lyre climb

and all your features pass in simile through
the songs of love whose words as light as rose-
petals rest on the face of someone who
has put his book away and shut his eyes:

to see you: tensed as if each leg were a gun
loaded with leaps but not fired while your neck
holds your head still listening: as when

while swimming in some isolated place
a girl hears leaves rustle and turns to look:
the forest pool reflected in her face.

— Rainer Maria Rilke


Oh, and one last one . . . it was too hard to choose only three :-).

Fall leaves. Image from Pixabay.
Fall leaves. Image from Pixabay.
Autumn Day

Lord, it is time.
The summer was too long.

Lay your shadow on the sundials now,
and through the meadow let the winds throng.
Ask the last fruits to ripen on the vine;
give them further two more summer days
to bring about perfection and to raise
the final sweetness in the heavy wine.

Whoever has no house now will establish none,
whoever lives alone now will live on long alone,
will waken, read, and write long letters,
wander up and down the barren paths
the parks expose when the leaves are blown.

Translated by William Gass,
“Reading Rilke: Reflections on the Problem of Translation” (Knopf)

— Rainer Maria Rilke

Fun with Word Swag. My cat Coco poses for Rilke's Black Cat.
My cat Coco poses for Rilke’s Black Cat.


Volumes of Rilke Poetry on Amazon



Thank you for visiting — for other articles on life and travel, browse the home page:



** Castaño, Carlos (2013). “Defining and Characterising the Concept of Internet Meme”. Revista CES Psicología 6 (2): 82–104.

Author: Ann

Writer, traveler, and cancer fighter. Get out there and live life!

7 thoughts on “Word Swag and Some Rilke”

  1. Ann, I have not read any Rilke since seventh grade German class. You’ve shown me why that is a sadness. I really liked your first Word-Swag image before I knew you had created it. I’ve saved it to a place where I can read it whenever… Thanks.


    1. I found Rilke when I was in college. He is one of my favorite poets, so I’m happy to share him — it’s never too late to find him, or in your case, re-find him.


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