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Letters to a Young Poet

4.30  ·  Rating details ·  58,385 ratings  ·  4,710 reviews
Born in 1875, the great German lyric poet Rainer Maria Rilke published his first collection of poems in 1898 and went on to become renowned for his delicate depiction of the workings of the human heart. Drawn by some sympathetic note in his poems, young people often wrote to Rilke with their problems and hopes. From 1903 to 1908 Rilke wrote a series of remarkable responses ...more
Paperback, 90 pages
Published August 1st 1993 by Norton (first published 1929)
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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)
Sonja M.D. Herter Norton is the translated the 3rd English edition, which is what I read and loved. However, Mark Harmon, not the actor, has been praised by…moreM.D. Herter Norton is the translated the 3rd English edition, which is what I read and loved. However, Mark Harmon, not the actor, has been praised by the Harvard Press for his 5th English edition as the go-to and I believe it is now standard.
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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 mo
...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  ·  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
...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
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
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 deve
...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 th
...more
J.L.   Sutton
Mar 21, 2020 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 now 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.”

“The only journey is the one within.”

Image result for rilke

Really loved the idea of 'living the question.' Beginning in 1903 and spanning a 5-year period, Rainer
...more
Paul Bryant
LETTER FROM A YOUNG POET

Dear Mr Rilke

I am not sure I made myself completely clear in my last letter to you. Judging by the reply you were so kind enough to send, I don’t think you quite realised that my landlord has now issued a notice to quit, the period of which terminates this month, and, as I tried to explain, I have been let go from my position at the slaughterhouse – I stress that these are not metaphors, or ironic parables, dear Mr Rilke. It could be that you thought I was speaking poetic
...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
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.
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 matt ...more
Robin
What a tremendous thrill it must have been for budding poet Franz Xaver Kappus, to receive the first letter in response to his own from his literary idol, Rainer Maria Rilke. And then, to receive nine more.

This collection has been widely read and is widely loved. Only the letters from Rilke (written from 1903 - 1908) are included, which is fine, because even Rilke acknowledges several times that he is not addressing Kappus' specific questions or concerns. Rather, he gives a loving, far reaching
...more
CarolynMarieReads
BREATHTAKING!!!
First book finished for the Rory Gilmore 24 hour readathon!!! Full review to come!!! 📖🖤
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
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
Sanjay Gautam
Feb 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It was a profound, almost celestial, experience reading these letters by Rilke.
Perry
Nov 17, 2015 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
...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 abou
...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 deepl
...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
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
IE
Jan 26, 2012 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
Gabrielle
Last weekend, I went to see “Jojo Rabbit” with my husband. I laughed so hard, and then I ugly-cried. Needless to say, I loved the movie, and I was very struck with the final frame, which showed a quote from one of Rilke’s most famous poem, “Go to the Limits of Your Longing”:

“Let everything happen to you
Beauty and terror
Just keep going
No feeling is final."

We had to stay behind while I composed myself as the credits rolled, because out of nowhere, that quote hit me like a sucker punch. I’ve had a
...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 wel
...more
PattyMacDotComma
5★
“Go into yourself. Search for the reason that bids you write; find out whether it is spreading out its roots in the deepest places of your heart, acknowledge to yourself whether you would have to die if it were denied you to write. This above all—ask yourself in the stillest hour of your night: must I write?”


A nineteen-year-old military cadet took a chance and wrote a letter to Rainer Maria Rilke asking for advice about writing poetry. The amazing thing is that Rilke wrote back with long, thou
...more
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
Julie
I have found out that I far prefer Mr. Rilke's poetry, to his prose. While there are lovely little gems thrown into these letters for the reader to find, he's just another young man bestowing his wisdom on the world. We are never so wise as we are at 22 and 25, with the whole world to discover; and indeed, think we have discovered the keys to the universe in the heart of a flower, or a poem. (Perhaps we had, as Rilke had.) And like Rilke, nothing that we ever did after that amounted to all the w ...more
Matthew Ted
131st book of 2020.

Stunning – for anyone who has ever felt lonely should read these letters; for anyone who loves art and creativity should read these letters.

Franz Xaver Kappus wrote to Rainer Maria Rilke, sending both his work, and we can presume from the one-sided letters here, thoughts on his own life, his solitude and his anxieties. The result of this correspondence is Rilke’s meditations on art and loneliness and love and life, recorded forever.
be patient towards all that is unresolve
...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
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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.” 11226 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.” 2853 likes
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