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Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria…
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Letters to a Young Poet (1929)

by Rainer Maria Rilke

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Showing 1-5 of 40 (next | show all)
This was my second time reading the book. It still got me to think and raised questions. I have little doubt that I will read it again some day. A friend had recommended the book when I was looking for work and trying to figure out what to do next. ( )
  RKoletteL | Jun 5, 2014 |
In 1902, 19-year-old cadet Franz Kappus wrote to Rainer Maria Rilke for his thoughts on some poems he had written. Rilke was known for a few acclaimed books of poetry and was beginning to really hone his craft. Kappus wanted genuine criticism and was trying to decide between a career in the army or a life as a writer. The ten letters he saved and subsequently published as Letters to a Young Poet are some of the most genuine and honest assessments of the field of poetry and the duty of the poet.

Morton’s translation of Rilke letters is all at once succinct, plain, and gorgeous. Rilke needs few words to impart to Kappus the importance of poetry and how one should go about writing it. “Nobody can advise you and help you,” he says, “nobody. There is only one way. Go into yourself.” Rilke decries the professional critic, the editor, and even the friend who seeks to help the poet. All poetry must come from a place free of outside judgment. Rilke also helps Kappus through a series of crises, including ones of sexuality, intimacy, and professionalism. Rilke takes a little longer to respond to each letter, almost trying to wean Kappus off using him as a critical crutch. In ten simple letters, Rilke gives a very good master class in poetry. If you’re a writer or a lover of poetry, this one will make for a grand and quick read. ( )
  NielsenGW | Mar 11, 2014 |
Twelve years on and it will have been a ten
by ten span of time since you left, Rilke.
Left on high, left to below both word and
hope, hope, most of all hope. Your heart you gave,
and for that we love.

I'd like to rhyme in metered line along
the likes of you, but too long ago your
poetry graced my eyes. What lies left's a
feeling fit for tears and joy alone, and
somber light it is.

Your maudlin days do not astonish, for
many a kindred of mine has suffered
the same, and yet, goes on. I draw from each
going for my own, and yours I say is
of exquisite touch.

Man to man you wrote back then, both letter
and the wider world of word, and as with
most I gritted firm for any and all
male strickenings of the female fact, of
grim necessity.

But 'lo! You knew, and where you didn't, you
hoped, in a beauty of mournful bright. Of
early on you penned this plighted dream, and
did more in a quickening page than most
in their own lifetime.

And more, and more, and more to come. Childhood
days, unhappy days, and yet every bloom
you would cherish and hold dear. Sin was not
a word allowed you said; what mattered was
life, and lived to love.

In solitude and suspension flush, you
counseled attention paid to the soul of
self. Every part and every shuddering truth,
both internal and the real. Often faint,
often not enough.

Fail better. The words came after you, and
with less heart, but you would most agree. There's
lovely things in life, you said, you wrote, you
sculpted deep in tears of crystalline. One
weeps in the knowing.

But one would smile and cheer and cradle close
what you've left us dear. You felt, and saw fit
to refract as close to thought through form. To
all, to us, to me. I cannot return,
save for scripting here.

Rainer Maria Rilke, you wrote; I
felt my heart would burst. ( )
  Korrick | Feb 26, 2014 |
These are 10 letters that Rainer Maria Rilke sent in reply to a young man who began the correspondence with regard to his own poetry's worth.

I would very much like to read more from this man. Many, many things that he said (though not all) were deeply-profound and affecting, one quote by him in particular was relevant and moving in my life right now, and so I am thankful to have been able to read such words as his. His perspective, even where mine differed, engaged me in deep and interesting thought.

"To express yourself, use the things that surround you, the pictures of your dreams and the objects of your recollections. When your daily life seems barren, do not blame it; blame yourself rather and tell yourself that you are not poet enough to call forth its riches; for the creative worker knows no barrenness and no poor indifferent place."

"And when from this turning inwards, from this retreat into your own world, verses come into being, then you will not think of asking anyone, whether they are good verses."

"You cannot disturb [your course of development] more drastically than if you direct your thoughts outwards and expect from without the answer to questions which probably only your innermost feeling in the quietest hour of your life can answer."

"Attach yourself to Nature, to the simple and small in her, which hardly anyone sees, but which can so unexpectedly turn into the great and the immeasurable."

"Ripen like a tree which does not force its sap, but in the storms of spring stands confident without being afraid that afterwards no summer may come."

It makes me long for such meaningful correspondence with another, and I think that all artists should glimpse upon these words, for the book is short, but will last beyond the pages.

"And for the rest, let life happen to you. Believe me, life is right in every case." ( )
  evolvingthread | Feb 18, 2014 |
I loved it. A little too much religion and emphasis on purity, and I'm pretty sure why he's as depressive as he was, but still mainly good advice. ( )
  fphoppe | Feb 5, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 40 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (36 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Rilke, Rainer Mariaprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Burnham, Joan M.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Enwald, LiisaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kappus, Franz XaverIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mitchell, StephenTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Nerburn, KentForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Norton, M.D. HerterTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Snell, ReginaldTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Storck, Joachim W.Forewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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It was in the late autumn of 1902 - I was sitting under some ancient chestnuts in the park of the Military Academy in Wiener-Neustadt, reading. (Introduction)
Your letter only reached me a few days ago.
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La volupté de la chair est une expérience ces sens comparable au pur regard ou à la pure sensation qu’exhale un beau fruit sur la langue ; elle est une grande expérience, sans limites, qui nous est donnée, une connaissance du monde, la connaissance dans toute sa plénitude et sa splendeur.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0393310396, Paperback)

It would take a deeply cynical heart not to fall in love with Rainer Maria Rilke's Letters to a Young Poet. At the end of this millennium, his slender book holds everything a student of the century could want: the unedited thoughts of (arguably) the most important European poet of the modern age. Rilke wrote these 10 sweepingly emotional letters in 1903, addressing a former student of one of his own teachers. The recipient was wise enough to omit his own inquiries from the finished product, which means that we get a marvelously undiluted dose of Rilkean aesthetics and exhortation.

The poet prefaced each letter with an evocative notation of the city in which he wrote, including Paris, Rome, and the outskirts of Pisa. Yet he spends most of the time encouraging the student in his own work, delivering a sublime, one-on-one equivalent of the modern writing workshop:

Go into yourself and test the deeps in which your life takes rise; at its source you will find the answer to the question whether you must create. Accept it, just as it sounds, without inquiring into it. Perhaps it will turn out that you are called to be an artist. Then take that destiny upon yourself and bear it, its burden and its greatness, without ever asking what recompense might come from outside.
Every page is stamped with Rilke's characteristic grace, and the book is free of the breathless effect that occasionally mars his poetry. His ideas on gender and the role of the artist are also surprisingly prescient. And even his retrograde comment on the "beauty of the virgin" (which the poet derives from the fact that she "has not yet achieved anything") is counterbalanced by his perception that "the sexes are more related than we think." Those looking for an alluring image of the solitary artist--and for an astonishing quotient of wisdom--will find both in Letters to a Young Poet. --Jennifer Buckendorff

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:54:20 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

Letters written to F.X.Kappus during the years 1903-1908. Chronicle of Rilkes's life for the years 1903-1908 (p. 81-123).

» see all 4 descriptions

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W.W. Norton

Two editions of this book were published by W.W. Norton.

Editions: 0393310396, 0393318508

Penguin Australia

Two editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0141192305, 0141192321

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