Quotes from book
Letters to a Young Poet

Letters to a Young Poet

Letters to a Young Poet is a collection of ten letters written by Bohemian-Austrian poet Rainer Maria Rilke to Franz Xaver Kappus , a 19-year-old officer cadet at the Theresian Military Academy in Wiener Neustadt. Rilke, the son of an Austrian army officer, had studied at the academy's lower school at Sankt Pölten in the 1890s. Kappus corresponded with the popular poet and author from 1902 to 1908 seeking his advice as to the quality of his poetry, and in deciding between a literary career or a career as an officer in the Austro-Hungarian Army. Kappus compiled and published the letters in 1929—three years after Rilke's death from leukemia.


Rainer Maria Rilke photo
Rainer Maria Rilke photo

„The necessary thing is after all but this; solitude, great inner solitude. Going into oneself for hours meeting no one - this one must be able to attain.“

—  Rainer Maria Rilke, book Letters to a Young Poet

Variant: What is necessary, after all, is only this: solitude, vast inner solitude. To walk inside yourself and meet no one for hours—that is what you must be able to attain.
Source: Letters to a Young Poet

Rainer Maria Rilke photo
Rainer Maria Rilke photo
Rainer Maria Rilke photo

„Find out the reason that commands you to write; see whether it has spread its roots into the very depth of your heart; confess to yourself you would have to die if you were forbidden to write.“

—  Rainer Maria Rilke, book Letters to a Young Poet

Letter One (17 February 1903)
Letters to a Young Poet (1934)
Context: No one can advise or help you — no one. There is only one thing you should do. Go into yourself. Find out the reason that commands you to write; see whether 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.

Rainer Maria Rilke photo
Rainer Maria Rilke photo

„A work of art is good if it has grown out of necessity.“

—  Rainer Maria Rilke, book Letters to a Young Poet

Letter One (17 February 1903)
Source: Letters to a Young Poet (1934)

Rainer Maria Rilke photo
Rainer Maria Rilke photo
Rainer Maria Rilke photo
Rainer Maria Rilke photo
Rainer Maria Rilke photo
Rainer Maria Rilke photo

„It seems to me that almost all our sadnesses are moments of tension, which we feel as paralysis because we no longer hear our astonished emotions living. Because we are alone with the unfamiliar presence that has entered us; because everything we trust and are used to is for a moment taken away from us; because we stand in the midst of a transition where we cannot remain standing. That is why the sadness passes: the new presence inside us, the presence that has been added, has entered our heart, has gone into its innermost chamber and is no longer even there, - is already in our bloodstream. And we don't know what it was. We could easily be made to believe that nothing happened, and yet we have changed, as a house that a guest has entered changes. We can't say who has come, perhaps we will never know, but many signs indicate that the future enters us in this way in order to be transformed in us, long before it happens. And that is why it is so important to be solitary and attentive when one is sad: because the seemingly uneventful and motionless moment when our future steps into us is so much closer to life than that other loud and accidental point of time when it happens to us as if from outside. The quieter we are, the more patient and open we are in our sadnesses, the more deeply and serenely the new presence can enter us, and the more we can make it our own, the more it becomes our fate.“

—  Rainer Maria Rilke, book Letters to a Young Poet

Letter Eight (12 August 1904)
Letters to a Young Poet (1934)

Rainer Maria Rilke photo
Rainer Maria Rilke photo
Rainer Maria Rilke photo
Rainer Maria Rilke photo
Rainer Maria Rilke photo
Rainer Maria Rilke photo
Rainer Maria Rilke photo

„Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Etiam egestas wisi a erat. Morbi imperdiet, mauris ac auctor dictum.“

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