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Letters to a Young Poet

4.35 of 5 stars 4.35  ·  rating details  ·  19,772 ratings  ·  1,373 reviews
Insightful and inspiring thoughts on creative expression from a treasured poet in correspondence with a young neophyte. A perfect gift for the writer, artist, or thinker.
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Published October 4th 2010 by Not Avail (first published 1929)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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s.penkevich
Mar 08, 2013 s.penkevich rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who desires to write
Recommended to s.penkevich by: Rakhi Dalal
Go into yourself and see how deep the place is from which your life flows.

Rainer Maria Rilke puts forth the question ‘must I write?’ in these letters from the great poet to the unknown Mr. Kappus. ‘Dig into yourself for a deep answer,’ he tells the young poet, ‘and if this answer rights out in assent, if you meet this solemn question with a strong, simple “I must”, then build your life in accordance with this necessity.Letters To A Young Poet, written between 1903-08, contains some of the mo
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Riku Sayuj
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
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Fionnuala

Dear Mr Rilke,
How can I thank you enough for these marvelously heartfelt letters, full of inspiration, beauty and wisdom. They are a glorious gift, a gospel of wonderful words which I will follow all the days of my life.

Dear Reader,
If there is one thing I would say to you, it is to caution you against immoderation, against lavish and excessive language. When you write, try to say what you really feel and using the simplest language you know. Listen to the silence deep in your heart and begin th
...more
AB
May 31, 2010 AB rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to AB by: Mara Collins
In which Rainer Maria Rilke, both mercilessly and mercifully, bashes me over the head with a baseball bat from the other side of the Great Whatever.
Aubrey
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
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Michelle
I always underline in books, either for the wise quotes that teach or the pure beauty of the passage. About ten pages into this book, though, I gave up underlining as nearly every sentence was a combination of beauty and wisdom. These letters (to a young man he never even met!) are inspiring in their honesty, teaching to cherish your solitude, "to walk inside yourself and meet no one for hours... to be solitary as you were when you were a child, when the grownups walked around involved with matt ...more
Evan

Sigh. Rilke answers nothing and answers everything.

He talks of our ancestors as being "murmuring blood." This book, containing the voice of his wisdom across the age, is blood that courses through us and speaks.

It offers comfort to me in the face of life's challenges, its unrequited longings. It helps me see the value of difficulties and the importance of patience.

I wish I'd read this many years ago. I think it would have given me guidance I needed, even if it didn't lead me away from mistakes.
...more
Ashley
"Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves… do not seek the answers which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them and the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer."

I feel like this book has become a token gift for graduates, along with "Oh, the Places You'll Go!". But with good reason. Rilke's advice to his friend
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Katherine
This is so wonderful I just want to swallow its pages whole and die.

This is a collection of Rilke's letters/life lessons to a very young poet who worked up the courage to send him a few samples. The letters are profoundly wise, sincere and loving.

If you are a young poet, you should find a nice couch on which to swoon while reading them.
Anthony Vacca
Letters to a Young Poet is a one-sided epistolary conversation between the already prolific Rainer Maria Rilke and a young military cadet/poet-hopeful, Franz Xaver Kappus (hell of a name, that). These ten letters from Rilke are a must-read for any hopeless heart who wants to be an artist--any kind of artist. The content of these letters isn't so much a how-to on writing poetry as much as a how-to keep your artistic spirits up. Rilke expounds vividly on the importance of solitude, faith in one's ...more
midnightfaerie
Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke was an excellent read and definitely one to put on my classics list. A short book that contains a collection of letters to a young poet, Rainer writes advice on anything from passion to love to life. The way he writes is exceptional, bringing an unusual beauty to his advice and a simplicity to his outlook on life. As you read it, you can't help but think, why this is obvious! Why didn't I think of it in this way before? An excellent read and a must f ...more
Ie
This book divides me, unequally.

So there's this younger me—college sophomore, terribly confused, desperate, and unconsolably depressed, who recites You Who Never Arrived during long, vespertine walks, and who sees poetry as a way to emancipate the soul: yes, that type—who sees Letters To A Young Poet as something immaculate, who might as well put the hundred-page paperback in a glass case, on top of a pedestal, and worship it every morning. He is the smaller half, perhaps fifteen, twenty percen
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Lani Barcenas
Sep 05, 2007 Lani Barcenas rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone who seeks self-understanding and self-awareness
I was first acquainted with this book through an excerpt I heard in the tape of Beauty and the Beast, Love and Hope. It goes: "How should we be able to forget those ancient myths, those myths about dragons that at thelast moment turn into princesses. Perhaps all the dragons of our lives are princesses,who are only waiting to see us once beautiful and brave. Perhaps everything terrble is, in its deepest being, something helpless that wants help from us. So you must not be frightened when a sadnes ...more
Denis
May 14, 2013 Denis rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Denis by: Britannie
Shelves: poetry
I started reading this book with the expectation that I would work my way through it quickly, but I ended up being driven through each letter by a hunger that had me finishing the whole thing in an hour. Among the many effects it had on me, I was left feeling humbled by the depth of what Rilke was able to express. He went far beyond simply addressing the concerns of how to be a true artist (though his insights in that respect were priceless), and he touched various inarticulate threads of my spi ...more
Louisa
I will and forever be in love with Rilke. Letters to a Young poet is timeless and Rilke's words are soothing and healing for my weary soul:

"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. This most of all: ask yourself in the most silent hour of your night: must I write? Dig into yourself
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Rakhi Dalal
There is something very pious about the experience you have while reading this book. No, I am certainly not a theist. Not anymore. But if ever there were a Pantheon built for the bibliophiles, Rainer Maria Rilke’s “Letter To a Young Poet” shall invariably have a place in it.

Though this is just an account of Letters written by him to an aspiring poet, Rainer speaks to you in a language, which seems to be coming back to you, like a cherished memory once been forgotten. The Solitude he speaks abou
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David
Good advice is so hard to take. Why do we even ask advice? Certainly inside ourselves we have thoroughly gone over our options, have dissected the possibilities. Inside our active minds is an infinite simulacrum of the future, testing our fortunes, planning every move. When we ask advice, we really only look for confirmation in our choice, to ask for advice is to ask for validation, to ask for the invitation to do what we were already going to do. In Rilke's letters to a young poet (the unfortun ...more
Abailart
I have a nice 1950 hardback version given to me. I read and liked the goodread reviews. A few of my own favourite extracts:

"...read as few aesthetic-critical things as possible - they are either partisan opinion become hardened and meaningless in their lifeless petrification or else they are a skilful play upon words, in which one view is uppermost today and its opposite tomorrow." (Letter III)

"One must in general be so careful with names; it is so often the name of a misdeed upon which a life i
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Carmo Santos
Se há livros que falam conosco, este é um deles. É proibido lê-lo depressa. Deve ser apreciado e saboreado lentamente, fazê-lo durar como se de uma iguaria se tratasse. Deviamos lê-lo cedo, quando ainda andamos a arrepiar caminho na procura de um sentido para a vida (não que alguma vez o deixemos de procurar), antes que seja a própria vida a ensinar-nos da pior maneira.
À falta de um poeta que nos escreva melodiosas cartas, fiquemos então com este pequeno livro por perto, façamos de conta que foi
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Ana
Há livros que nos tocam a alma e nos enchem o coração.
Espero ansiosamente encontrar um poeta na minha vida, que me escreva cartas tão belas!


"Basta... sentir que se poderia viver sem escrever para não mais se ter o direito de fazê-lo."

"Uma única coisa é necessária: a solidão. A grande solidão interior. Ir dentro de si e não encontrar ninguém durante horas, é a isso que é preciso chegar."
Moses Kilolo
I hear that most great writers and thinkers wrote letters and or correspondence that are studied to date. I have had a chance to revisit one of these, Rainer Maria Rilke’s Letters to a Young Poet. This man was considered one of the greatest 20th Century poets, with a German descent. In reading Letters to a young Poet, I am inclined to agree to his genius.

These letters, seemingly written over a considerable stretch of time, were addressed to Frankz Kappus, then a student. In his young, dreamy lif
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Rebecca
Sep 19, 2008 Rebecca rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: lovers of poetry and language
Shelves: classics, nonfiction
There are works that surface time and time again in cultural circles: film, literature, music, etc. One of these is Rainer Maria Rilke's Letters to a Young Poet. The young poet, Franz Xaver Kappus, is unremarkable in this set of letters as we never see the poems he sent to Rilke, nor do we see his end of the correspondence. Yet, what Kappus realizes, and so too the reader, is that his offerings are absolutely unnecessary because we see them through Rilke's eyes. Rilke readily assumes the mantle ...more
Angie
There are some books for which reviews are pointless. These books, instead of the reader selecting them from the shelf and listening to them as they unfold along their merry or unmerry way as they have before and always will, select the reader, at the right time, in the right place, like an old or a new friend who shows up just as the reader is on the verge of losing all hope and faith, pinned underneath the great questions of our times and battling their own monsters which threaten to swallow t ...more
Nick
Having just read and written the review for the book Steal Like an Artist, it’s funny to write the review for this, Rilke’s version. The difference? One writer is a nice, smart guy who quotes geniuses, and one writer is a genius. Rilke’s empathy, humility, and passion are palpable on every page. Rilke cares about art—not as some “fun” thing you do in your spare time, but as a MISSION, as the more important thing you could possibly do with yourself. He’s trying to change lives with his art—and tr ...more
Rebecca
Jun 07, 2009 Rebecca rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: no one
Letters to a Young Poet is one of those books that is so bad that I have to take notes while reading it to keep track of all the things I don't like about it.

This book is a collection of letters that the poet Rainer Maria Rilke wrote to a young man, between 1903 and 1908, who had asked Rilke for advice on how to become a good poet. Not having read any of Rilke's poetry before, I'm not really in a fit position to pass judgment on how worthy Rilke was of the young man's admiration and trust, but b
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Abbyjay
Oh My God, this is my favorite non fiction of all times. my second favorite book of all times (after Salinger's Franny and Zooey) How oh HOW did I forget to mark it as read???????
this book was my teenage bible. it spoke of hope, the merits of solitude yet not neglecting the consequential pains of it, it was beautifully written and immensely human and the best account of personal feelings and a human life I had ever seen. I have never connected with a single person as much as I have connected wit
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Cheryl
“Perhaps all the dragons in our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us act, just once, with beauty and courage.”

It feels quite trite to say this slim collection is inspirational.
But there you go.
It is.
Tina
Borrowed this from a good friend's shelf, and read it under a deadline. These kinds of books should not have a deadline because it needs to be read slowly and savored, understood and pondered for all the little nuggets of wisdom that Rilke dispenses. I found it not just wise, but also comforting, and somehow reading this relieves me of the stresses of everyday life. That's why by the end of the book, I decided that I'd want to have a copy of this for myself, if only to dog-ear and highlight my o ...more
Emilian Kasemi


Ne nuk kemi asnje shkak te kemi nje mosbesim ndaj botes tone, sepse ajo nuk eshte kunder nesh. Nese ajo ka tmerre, atehere ato jane tmerret tona, nese ka gremina, atehere ato na perkasin neve, nese ka rreziqe aty, atehere ne duhet te mundohemi t'i duam ata. Dhe po qe se ne e rregullojme jeten tone sipas ketij parimi, qe gjithmone te mbahemi per te veshtires, atehere do te behet ajo, cka na duket tashti me e cuditshmja, me e besueshmja. Si mund t'i harronim ne ato mitet e vjeter, te cilet ne fill
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Gene Ruyle
Sep 27, 2012 Gene Ruyle rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone interested in writing
Shelves: literature

Rainer Maria Rilke's letters to a young poet written at the beginning of the 20th Century

In 1903, by choosing to answer a letter and some poems sent him by the nineteen-year-old Mr. Kappus, Rilke, who was then twenty-seven, initiated a five-year intermittent exchange of letters that became one of the most famous in world literature. The two men began by acknowledging solitude as both a burden and a gift, but even more as the foundation without which no genuine poetic work could ever emerge -- t
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A good Poet 4 82 Nov 05, 2014 08:11AM  
Translations 3 57 May 16, 2013 08:37AM  
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Rainer Maria Rilke is considered one of the German language's greatest 20th century poets.

His haunting images tend to focus on the difficulty of communion with the ineffable in an age of disbelief, solitude, and profound anxiety — themes that tend to position him as a transitional figure between the traditional and the modernist poets.

He wrote in both verse and a highly lyrical prose. His two mos
...more
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“Perhaps all the dragons in our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us act, just once, with beauty and courage. Perhaps everything that frightens us is, in its deepest essence, something helpless that wants our love.” 8966 likes
“Therefore, dear Sir, love your solitude and try to sing out with the pain it causes you. For those who are near you are far away... and this shows that the space around you is beginning to grow vast.... be happy about your growth, in which of course you can't take anyone with you, and be gentle with those who stay behind; be confident and calm in front of them and don't torment them with your doubts and don't frighten them with your faith or joy, which they wouldn't be able to comprehend. Seek out some simple and true feeling of what you have in common with them, which doesn't necessarily have to alter when you yourself change again and again; when you see them, love life in a form that is not your own and be indulgent toward those who are growing old, who are afraid of the aloneness that you trust.... and don't expect any understanding; but believe in a love that is being stored up for you like an inheritance, and have faith that in this love there is a strength and a blessing so large that you can travel as far as you wish without having to step outside it.” 1558 likes
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