Riku Sayuj's Reviews > Letters to a Young Poet

Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke
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Aug 25, 12

bookshelves: favorites, writing-related, spiritual, r-r-rs
Read from December 27 to 31, 2011, read count: 2

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 convey a few truths to a fellow poet. Read it in that spirit - If you read with critical intent, the magic of the book will be lost on you.

My only complaint with the book is that it presents only one half of the conversation. It would have been a wonderful piece if both the young poet's and Rilke's letters had been printed in succession. I wonder if such an edition is available somewhere...
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Quotes Riku Liked

Rainer Maria Rilke
“In the deepest hour of the night, confess to yourself that you would die if you were forbidden to write. And look deep into your heart where it spreads its roots, the answer, and ask yourself, must I write?”
Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet


Reading Progress

12/31/2011
100.0% "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."

Comments (showing 1-25 of 25) (25 new)

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message 1: by Mohit (new) - added it

Mohit Parikh Thanks for the review. Tanuj has it, so will start it the first thing tomorrow.


message 2: by Riku (last edited Dec 31, 2011 11:29AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Riku Sayuj Mohit wrote: "Thanks for the review. Tanuj has it, so will start it the first thing tomorrow."

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 convey a few truths to a fellow poet... read it in that spirit. If you read with critical intent, the magic of the book will be lost on you.


message 3: by Mohit (new) - added it

Mohit Parikh Hmm. Alright, thanks for the advice.


message 4: by PGR (new)

PGR Nair I have read this book long back. Loved many passages on solitude, patience etc...It is from this book I came to know about the great Danish novelist Jens Peter Jacobsen


Riku Sayuj PGR wrote: "I have read this book long back. Loved many passages on solitude, patience etc...It is from this book I came to know about the great Danish novelist Jens Peter Jacobsen"

are english translations available?


message 6: by PGR (new)

PGR Nair Oh Yes, both his books Morgan and other stories and Niels Lyhne are available in Amazon and in flipkart also


Riku Sayuj PGR wrote: "Oh Yes, both his books Morgan and other stories and Niels Lyhne are available in Amazon and in flipkart also"

alri! will check them out soon. thanks for reminding me of the glowing tributes


message 8: by Bruce (new)

Bruce I think this is a magnificent book, one that deserves rereading periodically. I think that Rilke is one of our very best contemporary or 20th-century poets, very profound, lyrical, and thought-provoking. I return to his poetry again and again.


Riku Sayuj Bruce wrote: "I think this is a magnificent book, one that deserves rereading periodically. I think that Rilke is one of our very best contemporary or 20th-century poets, very profound, lyrical, and thought-prov..."

Very true. Who else do you read often?


message 10: by Bruce (new)

Bruce In terms of poetry? Wallace Stevens, William Carlos Williams, Richard Wilbur, among many others.


message 11: by Riku (new) - rated it 5 stars

Riku Sayuj Bruce wrote: "In terms of poetry? Wallace Stevens, William Carlos Williams, Richard Wilbur, among many others."

Will get back after I have read a few in that list...


message 12: by Lorraine (new)

Lorraine rilke IS awesome. and yes, I think he ranks among the top poets in the 20th C. it is a pity I have no german.


message 13: by Appy (new) - rated it 5 stars

Appy Fizz I agree with you. While reading, I kept imaging what the poet would say in return. I kept making up the replies. It would have given a much rounded appeal to this little book if those replies would have been recorded.


message 14: by Riku (new) - rated it 5 stars

Riku Sayuj Appy wrote: "I agree with you. While reading, I kept imaging what the poet would say in return. I kept making up the replies. It would have given a much rounded appeal to this little book if those replies would..."

True. Maybe you can post your own version in a review :)


Fionnuala Very respectful review, Riku.
Kappus clearly didn't choose to include his letters for his own reasons but I liked that as it allows each us to feel that Rilke is talking to us personally. I wrote my review as responses to Rilke's letters, with a little irreverence but mostly with genuine respect.


message 16: by Riku (new) - rated it 5 stars

Riku Sayuj Fionnuala wrote: "Very respectful review, Riku.
Kappus clearly didn't choose to include his letters for his own reasons but I liked that as it allows each us to feel that Rilke is talking to us personally. I wrote m..."


Thanks, Fi! I enjoyed your responses immensely!


message 17: by Omkar (new) - added it

Omkar Jadhav hey which translation did you read? I was going to order - Letters to a Young Poet (Penguin Translated Texts), but then I came across this review that said, "Any serious reader of Rilke should go with Stephen Mitchell's translation."


message 18: by Riku (new) - rated it 5 stars

Riku Sayuj Omkar wrote: "hey which translation did you read? I was going to order - Letters to a Young Poet (Penguin Translated Texts), but then I came across this review that said, "Any serious reader of Rilke should go w..."

Probably true for the poetry. :) This book does not need adherence to all those nuances. I think you will find mostly this cover in the bookshops in India... The translator is not mentioned in the book:

http://www.amazon.in/gp/product/81884...


message 19: by Omkar (new) - added it

Omkar Jadhav the mass market paperback is for 574, but is translated by Stephen Mitchell. :P


message 20: by Omkar (new) - added it

Omkar Jadhav after reading those fine and captivating bits and pieces of it, followed by grand and laudable bits and pieces about it, I am tempted to order the hardback :O


message 21: by Riku (new) - rated it 5 stars

Riku Sayuj Omkar wrote: "the mass market paperback is for 574, but is translated by Stephen Mitchell. :P"

Your call. :) I was satisfied with this one. In case SM has done a superior job, I will await your verdict before splurging!


message 22: by Omkar (new) - added it

Omkar Jadhav I WANT TWO EDITIONS NOW. First I will buy whichever is available locally (for solely reading purposes), so I won't have to wait for (1-3 weeks time frame which ama and flipi are giving me) and later I would love to get this as a collectible. Harvard University Press edition, Look it at, so hard, velvety, touchy, feely, clothlike layer on top, with deep black background with skyblue text on top, so aesthetically pleasing :O http://payload.cargocollective.com/1/...

This comes with a price tag of 1200, and is translated by some contemporary dude probably a (wannabe Rainer) staff of Harvard - Mark Harman. :|

The mass market paperback is translated by Stephen Mitchel, also comes with a foreword by him and is 128 page long. Has the most content to offer, in regards to the insights on author his interactions with his admirers etc. (check the initial pages of book preview at amazon)

So I guess the middle ground is wiser to tread on. 550 something rupees and you get the most of Rilke. But it is mass market, so is likely to be a shoddy paperback with a not so good design and paper quality. probably.

Let's see what crossword has in store, it's nearest to my place and is walkable. Will update you later on.


message 23: by Riku (new) - rated it 5 stars

Riku Sayuj Omkar wrote: "I WANT TWO EDITIONS NOW. First I will buy whichever is available locally (for solely reading purposes), so I won't have to wait for (1-3 weeks time frame which ama and flipi are giving me) and late..."

Looking forward to your Rilke romp :)

That hardback is one irresistible thing. Why did you have to show it to me!


message 24: by Omkar (new) - added it

Omkar Jadhav Rilke's video update.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yb-OY...

another impassioned narrative by Jason Silva @ Shots of Awe


message 25: by Riku (new) - rated it 5 stars

Riku Sayuj Omkar wrote: "Rilke's video update.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yb-OY...

another impassioned narrative by Jason Silva @ Shots of Awe"


Wow! Thanks for sharing!


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