November 10, 2013

Letters to a Young Poet

My trip to San Francisco didn't yield that many surprises but did give me a lot to think about. 

At City Lights I purchased the book Letters to a Young Poet written by Rainer Maria Rilke to aspiring writer Franz Xaver Kappus between 1902 and 1908. 

Here is an excerpt from 1903 in which Rilke responds to the young writer's first letter asking him for advice:

"You ask whether your verses are good...Now...let me ask you to give up all that. You are looking to the outside, and that above all you should not be doing now. Nobody can advise you and help you, nobody. There is only one way. Go into yourself. Examine the reason that bids you to write; check whether it reaches its roots into the deepest region of your heart, admit to yourself whether you would die if it should be denied you to write. This above all: ask yourself in your night's quietest hour: must I write? Dig down 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 sign and witness of this urge. Then approach nature. Then try, like the first human being to say what you see and experience and love and lose..." 



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