Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Letters to a Young Poet” as Want to Read:
Letters to a Young Poet
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Letters to a Young Poet

by
4.32  ·  Rating details ·  43,970 ratings  ·  3,168 reviews
In 1903, a student at a military academy sent some of his verses to a well-known Austrian poet, requesting an assessment of their value. The older artist, Rainer Maria Rilke (1875–1926), replied to the novice in this series of letters — an amazing archive of remarkable insights into the ideas behind Rilke's greatest poetry. The ten letters reproduced here were written ...more
Paperback, Penguin Classics, 84 pages
Published April 5th 2012 by Penguin Books (first published 1929)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Letters to a Young Poet, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Rachel 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)
Olivia Although I don't speak German, I found the translation by Stephen Mitchell to be quite good. I felt I was able to clearly understand the author's…moreAlthough I don't speak German, I found the translation by Stephen Mitchell to be quite good. I felt I was able to clearly understand the author's intentions. Besides, something always gets lost in translation. (less)
Sidney's The Defence of Poesy and Selected Renaissance Litera... by Philip SidneyThe Rape of the Lock and Other Major Writings by Alexander PopeLetters of John Keats by John KeatsThe Major Works by Samuel Taylor ColeridgeLyrical Ballads by William Wordsworth
Ars Poetica
31 books — 4 voters
فلسفة العلم في القرن العشرين by يمنى طريف الخوليعجائب الفيزياء by Christopher P. JargockiThe Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor DostoyevskyIlluminae by Amie KaufmanIf the Oceans Were Ink by Carla Power
Added 7
99 books — 1 voter


More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

Showing 1-59
Average rating 4.32  · 
Rating details
 ·  43,970 ratings  ·  3,168 reviews


More filters
 | 
Sort order
Start your review of Letters to a Young Poet
s.penkevich
Aug 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who desires to write
Recommended to s.penkevich by: Rakhi Dalal
Shelves: the_write_mind
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
...more
Jim Fonseca
Aug 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Rilke (1875-1926) was a famous German poet, born in Prague. He traveled widely throughout Europe, married and had a daughter. A dozen years out of school, after Rilke had achieved some fame as a poet, a young man wrote to him asking for advice about life and poetry. Rilke wrote ten letters to him over five years. The young boy was romantic, frail and dreamy; a prisoner, so to speak, in a military boarding school where he was subject to strict discipline, bullying and humiliation. It was the same ...more
Gaurav
May 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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
...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
...more
Seemita
Feb 25, 2015 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
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
...more
Elyse  Walters
Jul 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
While reading “Ideas of Heaven: A Ring of Stories”,
by Joan Silber .... I found myself really enjoying the poetry - inserted - by Rainer Maria Rilke—relevant -powerful - truthful - beautiful- words of depth I connected with.

I wanted to know more about who Rilke was.
I found this book -a
compilation of 10 letters that Rilke wrote to a young poet named Franz Xaver. Xaver wanted to know if his work was good.
— Rilke letters are inspirational - filled with wisdom -( jewels to writers)- and beauty.
...more
Manuel Antão
Apr 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016, favorites
If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.

Published 2016 (Portuguese translation and afterword by José Miranda Justo).

“Dieses vor allem: fragen Sie sich in der stillsten Stunde ihrer Nacht: ‘muss ich schreiben?’ Graben Sie in sich nach einer tiefen Antwort. Und wenn diese zustimmed lauten sollte, wenn Sie mit einem starken und einfachen ‘Ich muss’ dieser ernsten Frage begegnen dürfen, dann bauen Sie Ihr Leben nach dieser Notwendingkeit.”

This book has been my favourite book
...more
AB
Jan 27, 2008 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.
Ahmad Sharabiani
Briefe an einen jungen Dichter = Letters to a Young Poet, Rainer Maria Rilke
In 1903, a student at a military academy sent some of his verses to a well-known Austrian poet, requesting an assessment of their value. The older artist, Rainer Maria Rilke (1875–1926), replied to the novice in this series of letters — an amazing archive of remarkable insights into the ideas behind Rilke's greatest poetry. The ten letters reproduced here were written during an important stage in Rilke's artistic
...more
Luís C.
Aug 02, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Luís by: Gaurav
In Letters to a Young Poet, Rilke shows us, through a content of extreme sensitivity and acuity, the advice addressed to the young poet Franz Kappus who was hesitant to pursue his literary career. The beauty and truth contained in this correspondence that covered ten letters, between 1903 and 1908, made this work become known worldwide. Using its inherent simplicity, Rilke talks about solitude and what it holds of greatness and describes with immense wisdom facets of the inner life of the human ...more
فايز غازي Fayez Ghazi
- عشرة رسائل ارسلها "ريلكيه" الى صديقه "كابوس"، ينصحه فيها عن الشعر والادب والفن، بأسلوب متواضع ورقيق.

- الرسائل لطيفة (ستعيد ذكريات كثيرة لمن اعتاد كتابتها) وهذا النوع من المراسلات قد بدأ ينقرض اليوم ومعه تذهب احدى المشاعر الإنسانية الى اقبية النسيان!

- ريلكه لا يعظ في هذه الرسائل بل يحاول ان يترك "كابوس" على سجيته مع توسيع آفاقه واعطائه نصائح من تجربته الشخصية وقراءاته الذاتية.

- كتاب خفيف وبسيط ورقيق!

---
معظم الأحداث لا يمكن التعبير عنها بالكلمات، وتحدث في مكان لم تطأه يوماً كلمة
Michelle
May 15, 2008 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 ...more
فؤاد
همزمان با این کتاب، کتاب "ذن در هنر نویسندگی" ری بردبری رو خوندم، و حس کردم چقدر با هم تفاوت دارن این دو نفر، در عین این که هر دو جالبن. ریلکه خیلی آلمانی تره، عمیق و محزون و خیلی شبیه به شوپنهاور. در حالی که بردبری کاملاً آمریکاییه و پر شور و انرژی.
ریلکه مدام به فرو رفتن در خود امر می کنه، می گه شاعری یعنی خلوت گزیدن و قطع کردن ارتباط با آدم های دیگه، و وسیع تر کردن دنیای درونی، و باید سال ها تجربۀ درونی کرد تا شاید ده بیست شعر خوب سرود.
در مقابل بردبری معتقد به مدام کار کردن و کار کردنه، و می
...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
Nada Elshabrawy
قرأته مرات. ...more
Miltos S.
"Τα έργα τέχνης ζουν μέσα σε απέραντη μοναξιά, κι η κριτική είναι το χειρότερο μέσο για να τα ζυγώσεις."

Κάθε φορά που διαβάζω ένα βιβλίο σαν κι αυτό, συνειδητοποιώ πόσο μικροί και αδαής είμαστε σε σχέση με αυτό που ονομάζουμε ανθρώπινο πνεύμα. Σε τι βάθη και σε τι κορυφές έχει φτάσει η σκέψη των μεγάλων δασκάλων μας και πόσα πράγματα θα μπορούσαμε να διδαχτούμε από αυτούς.
Ούτε οχτώ ζωές δεν θα έφταναν για να διαβάσουμε όλα τα βιβλία, να ακούσουμε όλες τις απόψεις και να κάνουμε όλες τις σκέψεις
...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,
...more
Perry
Nov 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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
...more
Constantina Maud
I could just paste here all the passages I highlighted while reading this last month during my breaks from writing--but that would mean pasting practically the entire book.
Because it is that good.
You don't have to be a writer to truly enjoy this heartwarming read. Through this correspondence revolving around the writing craft, Rilke gives us glimpses into his general worldview and way of life convictions. His insight and existential approach on themes like anxiety, solitude and empathy are
...more
AhmEd ElsayEd
Jul 27, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
السخرية؛ لا تتركها تسيطر عليك، وبخاصة في اللحظات التي يغيب فيها الإبداع. أما في لحظات الإبداع فحاول أن تسغلها، بوصفها وسيلة إضافية لفهم الحياة. إذا استخدمتها بنقاء ستبقي نقية ولن يكون عليك أن تخجل منها. وإذا شعرت أنك ألفتها أكثر مما ينبغي، فاخش تلك الألفة المتزايدة وأدر دفتك صوب أمور عظيمة وجادة تبدو السخرية أمامها ضئيلة وعاجزة. ابحث عن أعماق الأشياء، فهناك لا يمكن أن تسقط السخرية أبدا. وعندما تقترب من حافة ذلك الأمر الكبير، اختبر في الوقت ذاته إذا كانت طريقة الفهم هذه تنبع كامنة من كيانك. لأنها ...more
Rakhi Dalal
Feb 24, 2012 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
...more
Calista
Rilke has sent 10 letters to his friend and pen pal, Kappus, talking about all manner of things, but mostly art and poetry. Kappus is a student asking Rilke about writing. He sends him his stories and letters and Rilke reads them and comments them. They also have a friendship developing between them.

This isn't a story, but it shows a historical mentorship. The book is the 10 letters that Rilke sent, but in this edition, they also print out the letters that Kappus sent to Rilke so we can see both
...more
Teresa
As obras de arte são de uma solidão infinita e nada pode atingi-las menos do que a crítica. Só o amor pode apreendê-las e guardá-las e ser justo a seu respeito.
— Rainer Maria Rilke, "Cartas A Um Jovem Poeta"

Em 1903, Franz Xaver Kappus enviou uma carta a Rilke com alguns dos seus poemas e o pedido de opinião e conselho. A correspondência entre ambos vai até 1908. Três anos após a morte de Rilke, Kappus publica dez das cartas que recebeu.

Além da beleza e profundidade dos textos, emocionou-me a
...more
João Barradas
Jul 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: to-buy
Caro Senhor Rilke,

Cruzámo-nos primeiramente numa viagem para um casamento de amigos, na qual, inspirado por esse sacramento religioso, decidi conhecer as suas "Histórias de um Bom Deus". O retorno tem vindo a ser postergado, sem motivo aparente. Este ano, adquiri uma compilação dos seus poemas e seguidamente vi-o mencionado numa biografia de uma pessoa que muito estimo (Oliver Sacks, conhece?). Os nossos caminhos pareciam estar a cruzar-se. Até que tropecei neste conjunto de cartas (ou me
...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
Ahmed Ibrahim
"دع الحياة تحدث لك. صدقني: الحياة محقة على كل حال"
أعتقد أن هذه أهم جملة ونصيحة قدمها ريلكه للشاعر الشاب.

كتاب جميل، رسائل من ريلكه لشاعر صغير أرسل له قصائده لتقييمها فنمت بيهم بعض الرسائل التي أسدى فيها ريلكه نصائح للشاعر الصغير. أحبب الكتاب. أثر في أشياء بداخلي، وساعدني في فتح أفق الرؤية للطبيعة. لوهلة شعرت أن ريلكه خصني أنا بهذه الرسائل.
rahul
Sep 18, 2016 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
Steven Godin
As Rilke's poetry has been notoriously hard to translate, the best way to get into the realm of Rilke is by simply reading these letters. One feels that we are getting to the essence not only of Rilke's poetry, but Rilke himself.

The story behind them is straightforward enough - A young officer cadet called Franz Xaver Kappus writes to Rilke, enclosing some verses of his own and asking for advice. Remember Rilke at this point was only 28 and had scant reputation of his own except among people
...more
Xavier
Feb 01, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: essays
This collection of correspondence between Rilke and yes, a young poet, is an inspiring source for anyone who has doubts about their creative abilities. Rilke encourages the artist to write inspite his doubts and isolation. Even if you're arent an artist, I think that this book is valuable.
persona ArtStudio
rated it it was amazing
Feb 01, 2007
aaron
rated it it was amazing
Feb 08, 2007
chris
rated it it was amazing
Feb 12, 2007
janet
Feb 16, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
a great read for artists who are struggling to find their way...
vineeth
rated it it was amazing
Feb 16, 2007
Bevan
rated it it was amazing
Feb 20, 2007
Caitlyn
rated it really liked it
Feb 20, 2007
Renee
rated it liked it
Feb 21, 2007
Peaceful peace
rated it liked it
Feb 23, 2007
Felicity
I found this book while packing to move out of my comfortable apartment and embark on a rather confused (and possibly short-lived) attempt to change the world/become a writer. I bought it a year ago but never got around to reading it, which I think is good, because last night was the perfect time for me to read it. I'm just going to embrace the cliche now, and say that this was the book I needed to read, and that I am going to carry it with me for the next two to six months, rereading and ...more
Justin
rated it it was amazing
Feb 24, 2007
anna
rated it really liked it
Feb 24, 2007
michelle zassenhaus
rated it it was amazing
Feb 24, 2007
Katie
is currently reading it
Feb 25, 2007
Elizabeth
Feb 25, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
Stunning.
Lawrence
rated it really liked it
Feb 26, 2007
Ashleigh
rated it really liked it
Feb 27, 2007
Ori Fienberg
Mar 01, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: how-to
This could also start an adolescent phase. I often paraphrase from this book without knowing it.
Erika
rated it it was amazing
Mar 01, 2007
N
rated it really liked it
Mar 02, 2007
Miles Kerr-Jarrett
rated it really liked it
Mar 02, 2007
Tyler
rated it liked it
Mar 04, 2007
cindy
rated it it was amazing
Mar 05, 2007
Dominic
Mar 05, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I'm not a poetry fan but this book wasn't really poetry. It was like reading a book made that was similar to Faulkner's Nobel Acceptance speech. Inspiring.
prema
Mar 05, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
does it make me a cheese to say this book may very well have changed my life? the articulate advice to a young, incomplete person is unparalelled in its honesty, opennness & authenticity... from artistic expression to sex to love to walking in the woods, this short book runs the gamut & reminds us to be true to ourselves above all. thank god someone is saying it, even if it's a romantic poet.
Keith
rated it liked it
Mar 06, 2007
kelly
rated it it was amazing
Mar 06, 2007
Cindy Shih
rated it really liked it
Mar 06, 2007
Susanna
rated it it was amazing
Mar 07, 2007
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Mogens and Other Stories
  • Niels Lyhne
  • Short Treatise on the Joys of Morphinism
  • Endowing Vegetables With Too Much Meaning
  • Les Fleurs du Mal
  • The Complete Poems
  • The Prophet
  • Autobiography of Red
  • A Poetry Handbook
  • A Thousand Mornings
  • 100 Selected Poems
  • في حنجرتي طائر منسي
  • You Must Change Your Life: The Story of Rainer Maria Rilke and Auguste Rodin
  • اسمح لليل بالدخول
  • Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair
  • Bajo el cielo del sur
  • الأعمال الكاملة
  • الرسولة بشعرها الطويل حتى الينابيع
See similar books…
3,498 followers
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
...more
“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.” 10850 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.” 2616 likes
More quotes…