Re-reading Rilke’s Letters to a Young Poet

I’ve been re-reading Letters to a Young Poet by Rainier Maria Rilke, and his words resonate with me more than a hundred years after he wrote them.

And while I continue on with my own struggles about being an artist, here is a clear voice from the past with wisdom to share.

“…And if out of this turning inward, out of this absorption into your own world verses come, then it will not occur to you to ask anyone whether they are good verses. Nor will you try to interest magazines in your poems: for you will see in them your fond natural possession, a fragment and a voice of your life. A work of art is good if it has sprung from necessity. In this nature of its origin lies the judgement of it: there is no other. Therefore, my dear sir, I know no advice for you save this: to 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.”

– Rilke, Paris, February 17, 1903


One Response

  1. Rainer Maria Rilke was not just a poet. He was a spiritual man. One of the greatest spirits of the Weimar Era. He was on the balcony of the PM the day the Republic was proclaimed

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