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Cartas a um Jovem Poeta

Cartas a um Jovem Poeta

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Cartas a um Jovem Poeta

avaliações:
4.5/5 (34 avaliações)
Comprimento:
54 páginas
54 minutos
Lançado em:
Sep 1, 2006
ISBN:
9788525409584
Formato:
Livro

Descrição

Paris, fevereiro de 1903. Rainer Maria Rilke (1875-1926) recebe uma carta de um jovem chamado Franz Kappus, que aspira tornar-se poeta e que pede conselhos ao já famoso escritor. Tal missiva dá início a uma troca de correspondęncia na qual Rilke responde aos questionamentos do rapaz e, muito mais do que isso, expőe suas opiniőes sobre o que considerava os aspectos verdadeiros da vida. A criaçăo artística, a necessidade de escrever, Deus, o sexo e o relacionamento entre os homens, o valor nulo da crítica e a solidăo inelutável do ser humano: estas e outras questőes săo abordadas pelo maior poeta de língua alemă do século XX, em algumas das suas mais belas páginas de prosa.
Lançado em:
Sep 1, 2006
ISBN:
9788525409584
Formato:
Livro

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Cartas a um Jovem Poeta - Rainer Maria Rilke

Biografia


Rainer Maria Rilke

(1875-1926)

René Karl Wilhelm Johann Josef Maria Rilke nasceu em Praga, então parte do Império Austro-Húngaro, a 4 de dezembro de 1875, filho de Josef Rilke (1838-1906), funcionário ferroviário, e de Sophie Entz (1851-1931), filha de uma rica família pequeno-burguesa. A infância de René é cheia de conflitos emocionais e traumas que o marcam para toda a vida: até os cinco anos, sua mãe vestia-o com roupas de menina, numa tentativa de compensar a morte de uma filha recém-nascida. Em 1886, dois anos após a separação dos pais, Rilke ingressa na carreira militar, mas abandona-a cinco anos depois por razões de saúde. Em 1894 escreve Leben und Lieder (Vida e canções), seu primeiro livro de poemas, e no ano seguinte é admitido na universidade, onde estuda literatura, história da arte e filosofia. Nessa época escreve Larenopfer (Oferenda aos lares), também de poemas. Em 1897 conhece a intelectual e escritora Lou Andréas-Salomé (1861-1937), por quem se apaixona, e escreve o livro de poemas Traumgekrönt (Coroado de sonhos) – que, como suas outras primeiras incursões líricas, é de inspiração neo-romântica. Salomé é casada, e o relacionamento amoroso dos dois termina após três anos. Continuam amigos e confidentes, e é por sugestão de Salomé que René troca seu primeiro nome para Rainer.

Em 1898 Rilke escreve os poemas de Advento e, nos anos seguintes, Das Buch vom mönchischen Leben (O livro da vida monástica) – que se torna a primeira das três partes de uma obra maior, intitulada Das Stundenbuch (O livro das horas) – e o livro de prosa Geschichten vom Lieben Gott (Histórias do bom Deus). Em 1901 casa-se com Clara Westhoff (1878-1954), aluna do escultor Auguste Rodin, e nasce a única filha do casal, Ruth. Escreve Das Buch von der Pilgerschaft (O livro da peregrinação), segunda parte de O livro das horas, que, assim como O livro da vida monástica, é dominado pelo pressentimento de um Deus ainda por vir. Os versos desses livros, comparados com sua produção lírica anterior, são mais objetivos e concretos. Em 1902 Rilke viaja sozinho para Paris, a fim de escrever um trabalho sobre Rodin. Nos anos seguintes, a capital francesa torna-se a segunda casa do escritor, onde trava contato com artistas modernistas. São dessa época as vivências que inspiraram o romance Die Aufzeichnungen des Malte Laurids Brigge (Os cadernos de Malte Laurids Brigge), terminado em 1910. Os trabalhos literários mais importantes desse período são Das Buch von der Armut und vom Tode (O livro da pobreza e da morte), 1903; Das Buch der Bilder (O livro das imagens), terminado em 1906; Neue Gedichte (Novos poemas), 1907; Der Neuen Gedichte Anderer Teil (Outra parte dos novos poemas), 1908; Requiem, do mesmo ano, e Mir zur Feier (Para celebrar-me), 1909. A partir de outubro de 1911, Rilke passa alguns meses no castelo Duíno, perto de Trieste. Lá escreve as Duineser Elegien (Elegias de Duíno) e Das Marienleben (A vida de Maria). Durante a Primeira Guerra Mundial, se estabelece em Munique. Chega a ser recrutado pelo exército, mas consegue uma dispensa. Fixa residência no castelo de Muzot, no cantão de Valais, Suíça, em 1921, e lá reencontra a inspiração que lhe fugira durante quase toda a década anterior. Em meio a um período de intensa criatividade artística, Rilke escreve Die Sonette an Orpheus (Sonetos a Orfeu), considerado o ponto alto de sua obra poética. Uma série de problemas de saúde obriga o poeta a internar-se várias vezes em um sanatório perto de Montreux. Passa algumas temporadas em Paris, na tentativa de recobrar a saúde por meio de uma mudança de clima. Em 1926 escreve, em francês, os poemas de Vergers (Pomares) e Les Quatrains Valaisans (Os quartetos de Valais). É diagnosticada leucemia, e Rilke morre em seguida no sanatório Valmont, na Suíça. Ele é enterrado no cemitério de Viège, no dia 2 de janeiro de 1927. O epitáfio de Rilke, escrito por ele próprio, dizia: "Rose, oh reiner Widerspruch, Lust,/ Niemandes

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  • (5/5)
    In our 'constantly connected' computer age, Rilke's deep exploration of solitude and patient artistic growth is a breath of inspiration.

    "Only love can touch and hold [works of art] and be fair to them," he writes to Kappus, and then admonishes him to "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 blessing so large that you can travel as far as you wish without having to step outside it."

    It is an understatement to say that Rilke sets the bar high for poetic expression, but every time I read through these letters I'm inspired to at least try to create what he'd call a few good lines before I breathe my last.
  • (4/5)
    These ten letters from the poet Rilke’s contain not only advice on poetry and writing in general, but advice on many of the facets of life itself. Franz Kappus wrote to Rilke who had been at the same military school as Rilke around a decade earlier, and received this letters in return to his ongoing correspondence between 1903 and 1908. This was an interesting time for Rilke, who throughout was struggling to work productively. Though he had already published two collections of poems which had made him relatively well-known, he was in a rut throughout much of this period, travelling around and working on various things, including a study of Rodin whom he got to know quite well. It was only years later that Rilke receive the intense bout of creative inspiration that led to his writing the scores of poems of the celebrated Duino Elegies and Sonnets to Orpheus which he completed over a few weeks in 1922. Rilke is very sympathetic and understanding in these letters. He is kindly and helpful, and has much insight on the difficulties of life. We do not have here the letters that Kappus wrote to Rilke, as these letters were only published years later by Kappus, who naturally did not have the copies of the letters he himself sent. At the end of this volume we have a brief section covering the context of what Rilke was doing around the time when he wrote each of these letters, which is useful to have. These letters are not just of use to the would-be poet, but contain so much good advice and insight into life that they would be worth reading for anyone who does not quite know what to do with themselves. Generally a handy volume to have around to dip back into when necessary.
  • (3/5)
    Maybe a century has made this work less -- shocking? valuable? relatable?
  • (3/5)
    Worth reading, especially if you are an artist or writer. There are gems of advice tucked here and there. Rilke's letters to Franz Kappus make we wish I could travel back in time and talk to one or both of them.
  • (5/5)
    LOVE THIS.
  • (5/5)
    Lovely collection of letters, advising a younger poet about life and art. As with most great works, it's greater than the sum of its parts. Rilke's musings and recommendations penetrate into humans' purpose, and how we fulfill that purpose. Or don't.
  • (5/5)
    Ten letters written between 1903 and 1908 to Franz Xaver Kappus, an aspiring poet writing to Rilke for advice. Rilke wrote the letters from Paris, Viareggio (near Pisa, Italy, and near where Shelley drowned), Rome, and Sweden. Much if not all of the collected letters discuss the creative process and the writing life. They were written (as the editor's supplementary biographical "chronicle" illustrates) during a time when Rilke was reflecting on his own unproductive spells. Rilke arguably wrote the letters more to himself and to the eternity of future writers as a kind of "credo" than to his particular correspondent, so for those seeking to understand Rilke the exclusion of Kappus' letters is probably inconsequential. Topics include: the creative process, irony, the poet's proper indifference to criticism and even feedback, sex (and its closeness to artistic experience), solitude, God, difficulty ("we must always hold to the difficult"), love (loving rightly and wrongly), the difference between the sexes, the future, convention and the poet's anti-conventionalism, repetition, emotions and doubt. "This, above all, ask yourself in the stillest hour of the night: must I write? Delve deep into yourself. And if this should be affirmative, if you may meet this question witha strong and simple 'I must' then build your lfie according to this necessity; your life even into its most indifferent and slightest hour must be a sign of this urge and a testimony to it."The book can be read in a day, and should be read by every aspiring writer in a very quiet place, in solitude. Very German.
  • (4/5)
    These are the letter Rainer Maria Rilke wrote to the young, aspiring poet Franz Xaver Kappus. Through these letters, Rilke imparts his thoughts and feelings on living your life to its fullest potential, but to also make sure that you stay true to yourself throughout. I read through this book every couple of years, and it never fails to amaze me how a collection of letters written over 90 years ago can still have so much to offer us today. My copy is dog-eared from multiple readings, with numerous passages underlined, but I still seem to find something new in each reading that is relevant to my life right now.
  • (5/5)
    “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.
  • (4/5)
    I loved it. A little too much religion and emphasis on purity, and I'm pretty sure why he's as depressive as he was, but still mainly good advice.
  • (4/5)
    These are 10 letters that Rainer Maria Rilke sent in reply to a young man who began the correspondence with regard to his own poetry's worth.I would very much like to read more from this man. Many, many things that he said (though not all) were deeply-profound and affecting, one quote by him in particular was relevant and moving in my life right now, and so I am thankful to have been able to read such words as his. His perspective, even where mine differed, engaged me in deep and interesting thought."To express yourself, use the things that surround you, the pictures of your dreams and the objects of your recollections. When your daily life seems barren, do not blame it; blame yourself rather and tell yourself that you are not poet enough to call forth its riches; for the creative worker knows no barrenness and no poor indifferent place.""And when from this turning inwards, from this retreat into your own world, verses come into being, then you will not think of asking anyone, whether they are good verses.""You cannot disturb [your course of development] more drastically than if you direct your thoughts outwards and expect from without the answer to questions which probably only your innermost feeling in the quietest hour of your life can answer.""Attach yourself to Nature, to the simple and small in her, which hardly anyone sees, but which can so unexpectedly turn into the great and the immeasurable.""Ripen like a tree which does not force its sap, but in the storms of spring stands confident without being afraid that afterwards no summer may come."It makes me long for such meaningful correspondence with another, and I think that all artists should glimpse upon these words, for the book is short, but will last beyond the pages."And for the rest, let life happen to you. Believe me, life is right in every case."
  • (4/5)
    In 1902, 19-year-old cadet Franz Kappus wrote to Rainer Maria Rilke for his thoughts on some poems he had written. Rilke was known for a few acclaimed books of poetry and was beginning to really hone his craft. Kappus wanted genuine criticism and was trying to decide between a career in the army or a life as a writer. The ten letters he saved and subsequently published as Letters to a Young Poet are some of the most genuine and honest assessments of the field of poetry and the duty of the poet. Morton’s translation of Rilke letters is all at once succinct, plain, and gorgeous. Rilke needs few words to impart to Kappus the importance of poetry and how one should go about writing it. “Nobody can advise you and help you,” he says, “nobody. There is only one way. Go into yourself.” Rilke decries the professional critic, the editor, and even the friend who seeks to help the poet. All poetry must come from a place free of outside judgment. Rilke also helps Kappus through a series of crises, including ones of sexuality, intimacy, and professionalism. Rilke takes a little longer to respond to each letter, almost trying to wean Kappus off using him as a critical crutch. In ten simple letters, Rilke gives a very good master class in poetry. If you’re a writer or a lover of poetry, this one will make for a grand and quick read.
  • (5/5)
    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 book. Recommended to all.

  • (5/5)
    This is a short but thought-filled book that provides sage advice for writers, poets, and just about anyone. Rainer discusses topics such as the value of solitude, the nature of love, and personal growth. Written with wisdom and compassion, the book is filled with life experience that has been processed and well understood through time. In these ten short letters, Rilke provides some great advice, especially concerning our uncertainties about ourselves and the unknown future."Just as people for a long time had a wrong idea about the sun's motion, they are even now wrong about the motion of what is to come. The future stands still, Dear Mr. Kappus, but we move in infinite space."
  • (4/5)
    Rainer Maria Rilke was a poet born in Prague (then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire) in 1875. He is generally labeled a “mystic” and has developed something of a cult following over the years. Rilke's poems are considered quite difficult to translate from the German, and frankly, I even have trouble understanding them in English. His letters, on the other hand, are quite comprehensible and even inspirational.This little volume is the latest of one of many translations of Rilke’s famous set of ten letters he wrote between 1902 and 1908 to a “fan” – an aspiring poet. The young man, Franz Kappus, 19, sent Rilke some poems and asked him if he would evaluate them, and whether he, Kappus, should risk all by becoming a poet full-time. Rilke, then only 28, answered generously, at length, and in great detail about what constitutes creativity and poetry, and how to channel the former into the latter. (What a dream-come-true for a “fan” of an author!)The letters give you a sense of Rilke’s great facility with words, and provide an interior portrait of an artist (himself) that is revelatory and moving.Don’t stop at the first letter; in it Rilke claims no one can help another with writing. But thereafter, Rilke goes on to advise Kappus about how and where to find the creative thoughts within himself. (Not only within: he does go on a bit about how “creativity of the spirit has its origin in the physical kind, is of one nature with it and only a more delicate, more rapt and less fleeting version of the carnal sort of sex.”)Poetry and sex. Who knew?But here, perhaps, is a better example of the beauty of his writing, when he explains to Kappus how Rome has helped his equanimity:"No, there is not more beauty here than elsewhere, and all these objects which generation after generation have continued to admire, which inexpert hands have mended and restored, they mean nothing, are nothing, and have no heart and no value; but there is a great deal of beauty here, because there is beauty everywhere.Infinitely lively waters go over the old aqueducts into the city and on the many squares dance over bowls of white stone and fill broad capacious basins and murmur all day and raise their murmur into the night, which is vast and starry and soft with winds. And there are gardens here, unforgettable avenues and flights of steps, steps conceived by Michelangelo, steps built to resemble cascades of flowing water – giving birth to step after broad step like wave after wave as they descend the incline. With the help of such impressions you regain your composure, win your way back out of the demands of the talking and chattering multitude (how voluble it is!), and you slowly learn to recognize the very few things in which something everlasting can be felt, something you can love, something solitary in which you can take part in silence.”Discussion: Can the prowess of Rilke be evinced through this (or any) translation? I have no idea. Rilke himself said in a letter to his long-time friend/lover Lou Andreas- Salomé that when he wrote on the same subject in French as well as German, the content “developed very differently in the two languages: which argues strongly against the naturalness of translation.”I cannot read Rilke in German, and thus I don’t feel able to say how good this particular translation is, although it is easy enough to find and compare others. Take, for example, the passage cited above about Rome. In this version, the translator has Rilke saying that “inexpert hands” have mended the beautiful objects of Rome. Another version I checked uses “workmen.” My impression is that restoring objets d'art is an extremely painstaking process requiring great skill, so I don’t find those concepts fungible. But, I have no idea what the passage says in the original German, so I have no knowledge about which construction is closer to Rilke’s intent. And in any event, otherwise I thought that this beautiful passage comes forth much clearer in this translation than the other. Generally, however, among translations, I think there is more variation in the associated matter (intro, notes, and the like) than in the text itself. What I can say that I found Rilke’s thoughts riveting. In the course of talking about creativity, he also muses on power relationships, love, gender roles, sickness and health, cowardice and fortitude, and how to think about what happens in life generally. I especially like this passage:"… imagining an individual’s existence as a larger or smaller room reveals to us that most people are only acquainted with one corner of their particular room … That way, they have a certain security. And yet … perilous uncertainty … is so much more human. … How can we forget those ancient myths found at the beginning of all peoples? The myths about the dragons who at the last moment turn into princesses? Perhaps all the dragons in our lives are princesses, only waiting for the day when they will see us handsome and brave? Perhaps everything terrifying is deep down a helpless thing that needs our help.” These letters will give you a very good sense of Rilke’s genius, his quixoticism, and lots of ideas to think about as well. And I particularly enjoyed being able to read something by Rilke that I actually understood….Note: This edition was translated and edited by Charlie Louth, and contains an introduction by Lewis Hyde.
  • (4/5)
    Ten of Rilke's letters to a young aspiring poet. Practical advices and recommended readings amongst meditations on moral and solitude life. A mixed bag, had some interesting parts but in whole it was a bit boring.
  • (5/5)
    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 for twenty years or more. When I was attending the Goethe Institute I had access to its library which is huge. I could request any book I wanted, and the services of the Goethe library would provide me with it. It was literally manna from heaven...Consequently, I never had a copy for myself. Until now. This gorgeous edition translated from German into Portuguese (bilingual edition), produced something worth having. It's a fine addition to my German library at home. On top of that the translation is far from serviceable. Apart from this translation, I only had come into contact with the translation done by Vasco Graça Moura which is a different beast altogether.

    I think the first time I wrote about Rilke was in 2008. What more can I say that I haven’t said before? Apparently still lots remained to be said and written…

    If you're into German Literature, Rilke in particular, read the rest of this review on my blog.
  • (5/5)
    It's amazing that someone can write letters on the fly (were they edited at all?) and have them be an almost flawless mixture of essays and poetry, philosophy and personal experience. I can only wish it was longer.
  • (4/5)
    It is a moving book and a youthful book. I wish I had it all along. Rilke writes with love and deep understanding, thoughts that at first seem like platitudes because of their generality and ring of truth. They could be in a self help book if not for the complexity of thought and phrasing he brings, the thought-throughness of it, and the many unconventional quirks he throws in. This is a book to be re-read many times over.
  • (4/5)
    Words of wisdom in ten personal letters from poet Rainer Maria Rilke to a man eight years younger, Franz Kappus, who at nineteen was debating between a literary career and enlisting in the Austro-Hungarian Army. The first nine of these letters were written over 1903-1904, and the last was written in 1908; Kappus published them in 1929 after Rilke had died. Rilke had his own frailties and doubts about the life he was leading, but in corresponding with the younger man he summoned his deepest convictions and passions about artistic life, and dispensed advice which still rings true today.Here are some snippets:“You ask whether your poems are good. You send them to publishers; you compare them with other poems; you are disturbed when certain publishers reject your attempts. Well now, since you have given me permission to advise you, I suggest that you give all that up. You are looking outward and, above all else, that you must not do now. No one can advise and help you, no one.There is only one way: Go within.”“…read as little as possible of aesthetic critiques. They are either prejudiced views that have become petrified and senseless in their hardened lifeless state, or they are clever word games. … listen to your inner self and to your feelings every time.”“I would like to beg of you, dear friend, as well as I can, to have patience with everything that remains unsolved in your heart. Try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books written in a foreign language. Do not now look for the answers. They cannot now be given to you because you could not live them. It is a question of experiencing everything. At present you need to live the question.”On coping with sadness:“You must not be frightened, dear Mr. Kappus, when a sadness arises within you of such magnitude as you have never experienced, or when a restlessness overshadows all you do, like light and the shadow of clouds gliding over you hand. You must believe that something is happening to you, that life has not forgotten you, that it holds you in its hand. It shall not let you fall.”Lastly this one on love:“To love is also good, for love is difficult. For one human being to love another is perhaps the most difficult task of all, the epitome, the ultimate test. It is that striving for which all other striving is merely preparation. For that reason young people – who are beginners in everything – cannot yet love; they do not know how to love. They must learn it.”
  • (5/5)
    Beautiful... Not a "how to write" book, a beautiful book about the art of writing.
  • (5/5)
    Sincere, and beautifully written letters that provide inspiration to aspiring poets. Very heartfelt and revealing in content.
  • (5/5)
    “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.
  • (5/5)
    I've read this every coupla years or so since I was of the age of the "young poet." I've consistently found something new in it as I grow older. Reading it as a full-fledged adult is an entirely different experience. It becomes clear just how much it is specifically for the youth. As a mature reader, one can easily see and understand the tension between Rilke's demands that one find comfort in their own solitude and the command to love unconventionally, at any chance one gets. When I was younger, I understood the necessity of solitude as a buffering oneself from the vicissitudes of life--of exploring your own desires and passions at all costs, of allowing yourself a certain kind of selfishness in such a pursuit. I didn't understand how one could both allow their own loneliness and also be open to the possibility of connection.In my 20s this bothered me: the idea of "two solitudes greeting each other." Now I realize that it is simply an ontological reality he describes. Rilke is telling the young poet: "Listen, loneliness is a fact of life. Better to get acquainted with it, comfortable with it. The better you know yourself, the more okay with yourself you are, and the better you can love."
  • (5/5)
    Rainer Maria Rilke's Letters to a young poet, at the beginning of the twentieth century.In 1903, by choosing to answer a letter and few poems sent him by the nineteen-year-old Mr. Kappus, Rilke, then twenty-seven, initiated a five-year intermittent exchange of letters that became one of the most famous in the literature of the world. The two men started off by acknowledging solitude as both a burden and a gift, but even more as the sole foundation without which no genuine poetic work could even emerge -- this solitude seen as the center around which their letters, and their lives, revolved and to which their discussions returned again and again.Both men wrote out of that particular reality each was facing and dealing with at the time: Kappus, revealing himself to another as never before, out of his confusion and need for help; and Rilke, now with wife and child, starting to see for the first time how terribly great that distance was both within and around him because of who and what at core he was. He feared it greatly and longed to be freed of the suffering it brought; he even touched on it in these letters, but though he finally came to see the kind of relating that would transcend it, he could not manage to arrive there. The powerful themes of creativity and love arise, and insights are found here regarding both of these as profound as any to be found anywhere. As Pascal once observed: the ones we love the most are not those who give us something we did not have before, but those who show us the richness of what we already possess. That is a way of saying what Rilke was doing for Kappus: showing him the richness -- as well as the cost -- of acquiring what he already possessed. And in doing this, Rilke was also speaking to himself as well.What the two found is seen in what they wrote. Their efforts were rewarded. Will yours be in reading of theirs? What you will find, depends on whether you bring to the reading of their words that same fullness of living from your life that they brought to the writing of theirs. But there is, perhaps, a way of getting at least an inkling of whether reading the book would be worth your time. Try reading this: "And if it frightens and torments you to think of childhood and of the simplicity and silence that accompanies it, because you can no longer believe in God, who appears in it everywhere, then ask yourself, dear Mr. Kappus, whether you have really lost God. Isn't it much truer to say that you have never yet possessed him? For when could that have been? Do you think that a child can hold him, him whom grown men bear only with great effort and whose weight crushes the old? Do you suppose that someone who really has him could lose him like a little stone? . . . But if you realize that he did not exist in your childhood, and did not exist previously, if you suspect that Christ was deluded by his yearning and Muhammad deceived by his pride -- and if you are terrified to feel that even now he does not exist, even at this moment when we are talking about him -- what justifies you then, if he never existed, in missing him like someone who has passed away and in searching for him as though he were lost?"Why don't you think of him as the one who is coming, who has been approaching from all eternity, the one who will someday arrive . . . What keeps you from projecting his birth into the ages that are coming into existence, and living your life as a painful and lovely day in the history of a great pregnancy? Don't you see how everything that happens is again and again a beginning, and couldn't it be His beginning, since, in itself, starting is always so beautiful?"Remember, that is only his prose. We've yet to get to the poetry that critics of every kind admit extended the range of the German language, bringing forth melodies and a use of imagery that wasn't found in it before. But if you find no such promise in this, then I recommend you pass this book by and go on to other things that strike and stir you instead.Of the numerous translations of Rilke's book into English, Stephen Mitchell's is the one I most prefer. For me, his comes closest to the common tongue, and has such a natural elegance to it that it lets Rilke's own shine through. Rilke's book speaks for itself, and Mitchell has the humility to let it. Enough said.
  • (3/5)
    I'll preface this with the admission that I'm not a poet and neither an avid poetry reader nor writer. "Roses are red, violets are not. I've got hay fever and plenty of..." You get the point. I was led to read this by my brother-in-law who spontaneously recites appropriate German poetry to fit the situation and then kindly translates it into English. I was particularly taken by a poem he recited by Rainer Maria Rilke, and sought out more information about him. This work is essentially ten letters that Rilke wrote to a younger poet over a relatively short period of time. While some of each is rather mundane sorry-I-didn't-write-sooner type stuff, much is extremely compelling, insightful, thought-provoking, and lyrically-phrased. What he has to say in some letters goes way beyond how-to-be-a-better-poet to how to view and deal with life itself. I cannot say that I understand or agree with everything he has said, but he most definitely got my attention.
  • (4/5)
    Rilke wrote a series of letters to the young poet, Franz Xaver Kappus, beginning in 1902. Kappus was reading Rilke's poetry under the chestnut tress at the Military Academy in Wiener Nuestadt when his teacher, Horaček, noticed the volume. Rilke had been a pupil at the Military Lower School in Sankt Pölten when Horaček was a chaplain there, and Horaček had known Rilke personally. The military proved not to be for Rilke, and he continued his studies in Prague. Kappus, however, felt that his own choice to pursue a military career was "directly opposed to my own inclinations", yet would continue his military career for years after. In the meantime, Kappus decided to write to Rilke to ask for feedback on his own poetry, and Rilke maintained their correspondence despite his constant travels. By Rilke's tone in the letters, it is obvious that he enjoyed his correspondence with Kappus, and often told Kappus that if he wished to be a poet, he would need to change careers, or, at worst, he might find time in barracks life to keep at his poetry. The book provides Rilke's correspondence to Kappus, beginning with his return letter of 1903 and continuing until 1908. The book also includes a second work, The Letter from the Young Worker, which adopts a letter format to "a polemic against Christianity". This style recalls the dialogues of Plato and others, but in this case is one side of a potential written conversation. In many ways, the style mirrors the way we read Rilke's correspondence with Kappus, only having (mostly) one side of the narrative. In his first response, Rilke provides some important feedback. He suggests that Kappus' poetry lacks an identity. He suggests that Kappus is looking to the outside, but the answer is (pp. 6-7):Go into yourself. Examine the reason that bids you to write. This above all: ask yourself in your night's quietest hour: must I write? Dig down deep into yourself for a deep answer. And if it should be affirmative, if it is given to you to respond to this serious question with a loud and simple "I must', then construct your life according to this necessity; your life right into its most inconsequential and slightest hour must become a witness to this urge... A work of art is good if it has risen out of necessity... Accept this answer as it is, without seeking to interpret it. Perhaps it will turn out that you are called to be an artist... Then assume this fate and bear it, its burden and its greatness, without ever asking after the rewards that may come from outside.Imagine having such a mentor? Rilke was patient, kind, and wise. His connection with Kappus has, perhaps, something to do with being a poet while in the military system, something I identify with personally (having found that the military was, once I neared the tell-tale signs of the evening of my youth, "directly opposed to my own inclinations"). There is so much in such a short work, with Rilke's advice becoming "Candidean" - "take refuge in [subjects] offered by your own day-to-day life" - and focused on the individual rather than the work (and not in a mean-spirited way but as a mentor). Given that Kappus continues his military career and does not become a poet of any note, and that Rilke was the opposite in springing from the military's well, it makes me wonder: should we take care in choosing our careers so we do not waste time in the wrong station? Or should we learn what really floats our boat through trial and error? I suspect, based on Rilke's care for Kappus' work, that Rilke really knew himself as a result, while I felt that, perhaps, Kappus had taken the easy option.
  • (5/5)
    These days everyone prefers the Stephen Mitchell translation, but I first read this book in Norton's translation and I confess to thinking it superior. I fell in love with this book when my dear friend Nicole Salimbene gave it to me for college graduation. I have loved it for many years, often going to it to remember to "love my solitude."
  • (3/5)
    These ten letters give us a glimpse into Rilke's philosophies of writing and life in general. They are at times very interesting, but at times boring. The mini biography of Rilke's life at the back gives the letters context, but is very boring.
  • (2/5)
    I've loved every bit of Rilke's poetry I've read, but I couldn't stand these letters. Half of me saw them as a tired, private communication between an artist and an aspirant, How to Live Authentically; reasonable letters, bad book. The other half of me was repulsed, unable to look past the fawning, excessive chic granted them.
    Life-changing they are not.