Letters To A Young Poet – Inspiration from Rilke

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Timidly hidden under a thick blanket of dust in a humid cold basement, patiently waiting to tell its unique inspirational story from a time long gone, a tiny little book with creased covers grabbed my curiosity. I was eager to save it from the abyss of oblivion.

I haven`t read any of Rilke`s poetry, however his extraordinary letters collected in this work elevated my spirit. “Letters To A Young Poet” is a collection of his correspondence with Mr. Kappus – a debutant poet, whom he had never met in person.

In his letters Rainer Maria Rilke elaborates on the upcoming poet`s work, however real wisdom rests in his frank opinion about life. Rilke is a true master of the lost art of giving a good advise, at numerous times I thought that his letters are a dialog with his inner self, trying to understand himself, while understanding others, trying to convince himself that he has chosen the right path.

The letters are profoundly inspirational! I re-read numerous times certain parts of his “advises”, which exhibit rhetoric and enlightenment on a higher scale, and I have found analytic wisdom and well-organized patience that I always believed it was out there in the world.

This miniature book eclipses all the self-help-self-discovery bookshelf nonsense literature that is in existence today. All that one needs to know regarding ones understanding of oneself is encompassed and offered as eloquent and compact as it could be in this collection.

Rilke’s letters are absorbing and loving.  As he puts it himself  in the letters commenting another piece of work “…the more often one reads it, the more everything seems to be contained within it, from life’s most imperceptible fragrances to the full, enormous taste of its heaviest fruits.”

Rilke’s profound approach to creativity envelops the entire content of this book captivating reader’s attention still until the last word .

Find out the reason that commands you to write; see whatever it has spread its roots into the very depths of your heart; confess to yourself whether you would have to die if you were forbidden to write. This of most all: ask yourself in the most silent hour of your night: must I write? Dig into yourself for a deep answer. And if this answer rings out in assent, if you meet this solemn question with a strong, simple ‘I must’, then build your life, even into its humblest and most indifferent hour, must become a sign and witness to this impulse. Then come close to Nature. Then, as if no one had ever tried before, try to say what you see and feel and love and lose.”

“Being an artist means: not numbering and counting, but ripening like a tree, which doesn’t force its sap, and stands confidently in the storms of spring, not afraid that afterwards summer may not come. It does come. But it comes only to those who are patient, who are there as if eternity lay before them, so unconcernedly silent and vast. I learn it every day of my life, learn it with pain I am grateful for: patience is everything!” 

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I highly recommend the Stephen Mitchell translation…

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