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Letters to a Young Poet

4.34  ·  Rating Details ·  30,764 Ratings  ·  2,090 Reviews
These ten letters by Rainer Maria Rilke speak directly to the young, offering unguarded thoughts on creativity, solitude, self-reliance, living with uncertainty, the shallowness of irony, the uselessness of criticism, career choices, sex, love, God, and art (which is only another way of living, Rilke writes).
Hardcover, 94 pages
Published April 18th 2011 by Harvard University Press (first published 1929)
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Rachel Wells I read somewhere that the original publication included a sonnet Kappus wrote, but I haven't been able to find anything else... he wrote other works,…moreI read somewhere that the original publication included a sonnet Kappus wrote, but I haven't been able to find anything else... he wrote other works, but I don't think any of his letters have been published :/(less)
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s.penkevich
Aug 25, 2012 s.penkevich rated it it was amazing  ·  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
...more
Seemita
Feb 25, 2015 Seemita rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: restless minds seeking a permanent footing.
Dear Mr. Rilke,

Assuming it to be a frequent phenomenon with you, I partake in pleasure and liberty of appointing you the receiver of yet another letter, from a besotted admirer of your wisdom and expression.

You see I have always felt that the best stories are those that we wish turned true; stories that uplift us with their depths and spring us back to the surface to stay afloat; stories that carry our thoughts in their seams and weave the most warm blankets to protect us in the winters of life;
...more
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
...more
Gaurav
May 16, 2014 Gaurav rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who is interested in thoughts of Rilke, Anyone interested in knowing how to write with soul
Letters to a Young Poet

Rainer Maria Rilke

'Letters to young poet', written by famed poet Rainer Maria Rilke, starts with a 'imaginary' poet Mr. Kappus seeking affirmation, from the great German poet, whether he should write ? The book continues with a series of letters which are generous answers, to the letters by'Young Worker', by Rilke, who was only 28 then, at length, and in great detail about what constitutes creativity and poetry, and how to channel the former into the latter. When you r
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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
Jan 27, 2008 AB rated it it was amazing  ·  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.
Michelle
May 15, 2008 Michelle rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
...more
Perry
Nov 17, 2015 Perry rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A Treasure Chest for Artists and Lovers of Art

I don't normally read a lot of poetry, but when considering this book a few years back, I'd read some of Rilke's poetry and the high praise I mention below. When I read this short book (80 pages) though, I had no idea what a true chest of treasures lies herein. I highlighted so much text and made so many notes, I noticed I left little text unscathed.

This book consists of ten letters written by Rainer Maria Rilke to a younger poet. It, and particularl
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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
Owlseyes
Notes collected







Rilke, the lonely German-language poet, but not really a German, rather an exile for 10 years,...possessor of nothing,but his language, shows a young man how a "masterpiece of art" can be accomplished and last for long.


Paris 1903.

It appears that Rilke had been approached by a poet asking for a critical view of his output. Yet Rilke's standing was not critical at all; he rather preferred a hearty (almost paternal) reply.
So he advised the young poet to look inside instead of se
...more
Ashley
Sep 04, 2008 Ashley rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"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
...more
Rakhi Dalal
Feb 24, 2012 Rakhi Dalal rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
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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Waqas
“Have patience with everything that remains unsolved in your heart”.

Feeling as if anchored to the precarious planks of reality and getting obscured by its umbra of alienation, disillusionment, and even regrets; bringing pallor to the unmarred joys of childhood which amongst the buds of retrospection have become only vulnerable further and further, becoming so intangible and precious that it is easy for one to relinquish what is before us, it is easy for one to wallow in the bittersweet longing f
...more
Chris_P
I guess this little book is the original and "the real thing" equivalent of Coelho's pseudophilosophical, pseudoinspirational manuals. Rilke sent these letters to Franz Xaver Kappus, in 1903-08 at the age of 28-33, who sought the famous poet's advice at a time when he was tormented by his loneliness and lack of confidence in his own works. One doesn't need to be an aspiring poet in order to draw inspiration from Rilke's wisdom which covers subjects of general importance. It's a book meant to be ...more
rahul
Sep 18, 2016 rahul rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
We should be exchanging more letters with one another.
Not the kind you mail or type in a neat little MS Office font.
But ink stained, yellowing at the corners, hidden in dictionaries till there creases start to tear and the memory of other's handwriting bridge the meaning between words left unsaid and others that have faded. Those written with red, green, blue, black inks and sometimes with words scratched , over written almost like lithograph of thoughts.
Yeah, we should be dipping our hands in
...more
midnightfaerie
Oct 10, 2011 midnightfaerie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, classics
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
Anthony Vacca
May 24, 2014 Anthony Vacca rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Lani Barcenas
Sep 05, 2007 Lani Barcenas rated it it was amazing  ·  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
Jul 30, 2008 Denis rated it it was amazing  ·  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
Ie
Jan 26, 2012 Ie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012
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
...more
Cheryl
May 17, 2013 Cheryl rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Cheryl by: Fionnuala
“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.
Rebecca
Aug 06, 2008 Rebecca rated it it was amazing  ·  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
Hadrian
Jun 05, 2012 Hadrian rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a charming little book, as fluid and emotive as Rilke's own poetry. Honest in its advice, and how it is unafraid to take on the darker realms of emotion and embrace the fate of the world.

Being a writer or a poet is a task of intense devotion, and Rilke gives it proper reverence. Rilke's focus is on the benefits of solitude and meditation, but also the steady work involved in this task, and how the writer must keep working so as to refine their craft.

This is a (dare I say?) very spiritual
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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
Aug 27, 2010 Abailart rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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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Celeste Corrêa
CARTAS A UM JOVEM POETA (1903-1908) de Rainer Maria Rilke (1875-1926)

Uma resenha em quatro excertos:

"A obra de arte é de uma solidão sem fim, e nada está mais longe de tocá-la do que a crítica. Só o amor poderá compreender e sustentar e fazer justiça a uma obra de arte”

"O futuro é um eixo fixo, caro Senhor Kappus, mas nós deslocamo-nos no espaço infinito."

"Se o mundo tem sustos, são os nossos sustos, se tem abismos, são abismos que nos pertencem, se tem perigos, temos de tentar amá-los."

"E, de r
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♥ Ibrahim ♥
I loved reading this part in his letters:

So you mustn’t be frightened, dear Mr. Kappus, if a sadness rises in front of you, larger than any you have ever seen; if an anxiety, like light and cloud-shadows, moves over your hands and over everything you do. You must realize that something is happening to you, that life has not forgotten you, that it holds you in its hand and will not let you fall. Why do you want to shut out of your life any uneasiness, any misery, any depression, since after all y
...more
Hesamul Haque
Dec 27, 2016 Hesamul Haque rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is my last read book until my semester ends. And what a lovely read it was although I do not agree to this fully because I need to see this happening what is wriiten in this book and that needs time.
I dedicate this book to people who want peace.
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A good Poet 6 97 Jan 18, 2017 04:35AM  
Club littéraire p...: Dîner littéraire du 16 décembre 2016 autour de "Lettres à un jeune poète" de R.M. Rilke 2 4 Dec 15, 2016 06:31AM  
Club littéraire p...: Diner littéraire - 16 décembre 2016 1 5 Nov 09, 2016 09:13AM  
Translations 3 75 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
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More about Rainer Maria Rilke...

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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.” 10151 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.” 2150 likes
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