Manual Letters to a Young Poet

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Letters to a Young Poet [Rainer Maria Rilke, M.D. Herter Norton] on *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers. Rilke's timeless letters about poetry.
Table of contents

Search for the reason that bids you write; find out whether it is spreading out its roots in the deepest places of your heart, acknowledge to yourself whether you would have to die if it were denied you to write. This above all — ask yourself in the stillest hour of your night: must I write? Delve into yourself for a deep answer. A work of art is good if it has sprung from necessity. In this nature of its origin lies the judgment of it: there is no other. Try, like some first human being, to say what you see and experience and love and lose.

Do not write love-poems; avoid at first those forms that are too facile and commonplace: they are the most difficult, for it takes a great, fully matured power to give something of your own where good and even excellent traditions come to mind in quantity. Therefore save yourself from these general themes and seek those which your own everyday life offers you; describe your sorrows and desires, passing thoughts and the belief in some sort of beauty — describe all these with loving, quiet, humble sincerity, and use, to express yourself, the things in your environment, the images from your dreams, and the objects of your memory.

If your daily life seems poor, do not blame it; blame yourself, tell yourself that you are not poet enough to call forth its riches; for to the creator there is no poverty and no poor indifferent place. Perhaps it will become apparent to you that you are indeed called to be a writer.

Then accept that fate; bear its burden, and its grandeur, without asking for the reward, which might possibly come from without. For the creative artist must be a world of his own and must find everything within himself and in nature, to which he has betrothed himself. It is possible that, even after your descent into your inner self and into your secret place of solitude, you might find that you must give up becoming a poet.

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As I have said, to feel that one could live without writing is enough indication that, in fact, one should not. Even then this process of turning inward, upon which I beg you to embark, will not have been in vain. Your life will no doubt from then on find its own paths.

That they will be good ones and rich and expansive—that I wish for you more than I can say.

What else shall I tell you? It seems to me everything has been said, with just the right emphasis. I wanted only to advise you to progress quietly and seriously in your evolvement. You could greatly interfere with that process if you look outward and expect to obtain answers from the outside—answers which only your innermost feeling in your quietest hour can perhaps give you.


I harbor the highest regard for this kindest of scholars and owe him lasting gratitude. Would you please pass my sentiments on to him. It is very kind of him to think of me still, and I appreciate it.

I am returning the verses with which you entrusted me. I thank you again for your unconditional and sincere trust. I am overwhelmed with it, and therefore have tried, to the best of my ability, to make myself a little more worthy than I, as a stranger to you, really am.

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Letters to a Young Poet Quotes

American Poets Magazine. Paris 17 February My dear sir, Your letter reached me just a few days ago.

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    Letters to a Young Poet — Rainer Maria Rilke | Harvard University Press

    Teach This Poem. Follow Us. How hopelessly stunted they are you can see: damp, heavy, hopping constrictedly like little toads in wet weather. And everything else about me too is old and worn and sad to view; why does God delay to do away with it altogether? I'm still too small to exist, I agree; but I'll always be so. A very thought-provoking, calming read. Portrait of Rilke by Leonid Pasternak from Wikipedia View all 14 comments.

    Shelves: rilke-the-aewsome , favorites. Kappus seeking affirmation, from the great German poet, whether he should write? The book continues with a series of letters which are generous answers, to the letters by'Young Worker', by Rilke, who was only 28 then, at length, and in great detail about what constitutes creativity and poetry, and how to channel the former into the latter. When you read first letter, at the outset, you may get perception as if the poet is not pleased with someone asking him to evaluate works by that someone , however as you move ahead you realize that letters by Rilke are exquisite, deep, very candid and probably of some use to someone new who is seeking advice of more experienced ones.

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    Rilke begins with probably the most honest statement in critical theory- There is nothing less apt to touch a work of art than critical words: all we end up with there is more or less felicitous misunderstandings - and continues further mediation about how to write. He then begins a series of discussions, continued throughout the Letters, of how both the Young Poet and his work can become more mature, more richly developed, and ultimately more connected to the Young Poet's creative soul.

    The great poet says that one need not confirmation from others to decide merit of one's work of art; he advises- Nobody can advise you and help you, nobody. There is only one way. Go into yourself. He tells young poet that one must not be worried about others' opinions, all that one should be considerate about it to ask oneself whether at one's inside one is convinced or not- ask yourself in your night's quietest hour: must I write?

    Dig down into yourself for a deep answer. And if it should be affirmative, if it is given to you to respond to this serious question with a loud and simple 'I must , then construct your life according to this necessity Rilke talks about different themes in the book, he mentions that one must try to make use of 'Irony' in creative moments to get a grasp of life, other themes, which are explored in the book, are- Solitude: Solitude, is essential if the Young Poet is to create work of both universal truth and lasting value. Sexuality Sexuality, according to RIlke, is manifestation of the creative spirit and an expression of humanity's nature.

    Love Rilke says that if a young poet has to come to both an understanding of himself and nature then love is a an important experience for one. One day there will be girls and women whose names will no longer just signify the opposite of the male but something in their own right, something which does not make one think of any supplement or limit but only of life and existence: the female human being.

    This step forward at first right against the will of the men who are left behind will transform the experience of love, which is now full of error, alter it root and branch, reshape it into a relation between two human beings I believe that love remains so strong and powerful in your memory because it was your first deep experience of solitariness and the first inner work that undertook on your life.

    Rilke moves on further to talk about that one should try to understand life in fullest and that it could be understood only if life is truly lived. He advises that one must engages fully in every experience - relationships, love, sexual desire, writing- and try to contemplate them in solitude.

    The book is one of those creations of art which throw light on the path you must follow to let your artistic creations bloom in fullest. Though letters don't have any descriptions of the young poet -everything the reader comes to understand about the Young Poet must be gleaned from hints in Rilke's writing- nevertheless, it can be assuredly said about the book that it gives the impression- the Young Poet undergoes a journey over the course of his correspondence with Rilke and got transformed eventually.

    I will say that any one who takes his writing seriously- for which he has to take up his vocation to read- can read this book, the book is a must read for anyone interested in poetry and life. View all 28 comments. The last book for the year. The soothing, gentle, unimposing yet wise voice of Rilke - what better way to fold up one more chapter in life and open another, with hope for more suffering and joys in apt measure.

    This little book has been my companion for four years now, always half-finished, and it feels strange to finally remove the bookmark and to keep it aside. Read it with a forgiving bend. Keep in mind that Rilke never wrote them with an intention to publish, it was mostly an attempt to conve The last book for the year. Keep in mind that Rilke never wrote them with an intention to publish, it was mostly an attempt to convey a few truths to a fellow poet. Read it in that spirit - If you read with critical intent, the magic of the book will be lost on you.

    Great Books: Letters to a Young Poet

    My only complaint with the book is that it presents only one half of the conversation.