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Letters to a Young Poet [Mass Market Paperback]

Rainer Maria Rilke , Stephen Mitchell
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Oct. 12 1986 0394741048 978-0394741048 1
Letters written over a period of several years on the vocation of writing by a poet whose greatest work was still to come.

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Review

"The common reader will be delighted by Stephen Mitchell’s new translation of that slim and beloved volume by Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet . . . the best yet."
--Los Angeles Times


From the Hardcover edition.

From the Back Cover

"The common reader will be delighted by Stephen Mitchell’s new translation of that slim and beloved volume by Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet . . . the best yet."
--Los Angeles Times --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Reflection Of Ourselves Sept. 16 2005
Format:Mass Market Paperback
"If your everyday life appears to be unworthy subject matter, do not complain to life.
Complain to yourself. Lament that you are not poet enough to call up its wealth."
-Rainer Maria Rilke, on themes for writing poetry.
Anyone who writes poetry, and perhaps even those involved in other forms of creative endeavors, may find the words within this book a mirror of themselves. I say that only because a mirror shows us our current reflection, and as we change throughout our life, the reflection changes with us. The beautiful and gentle expressions Rainer Maria Rilke writes to Franz Kappus are meant for a young poet, but their magnitude and depth are such that they could continue to be an endless source of insight and wisdom as he continued to evolve as a poet. I'm certain that we can all see ourselves in these wonderful words, and we can also witness what we aspire to be.
Even as Rilke admits that Jens Jacobsen, the writer, and Auguste Rodin, the sculptor, taught him something of the depth and enduring quality of creativity, it is always to the poet's own personal experiences and inward impetus, that he continually points to as the true source for art. For it may very well be that a poet is often inspired by these outward influences, it is still to those unique ideas and beautiful emotions that often remain on the edge of his own comprehension that an artist seeks to fully express. As Rainer Maria Rilke so eloquently writes, "To allow the completion of every impression, every germ of a feeling deep within, in darkness, beyond words, in the realm of instinct unattainable by logic...that alone is to live one's art."
The requisite to read these ten letters written over one hundred years ago has endured for generations, and will continue to do so.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
Not long ago, my boyfriend (who is now my ex) gave
this book to me. He suggested I read it. "It
will improve the way you look at life," he said.
Being that he was a poetry teacher; I said yes,
opened my mind and began to read.

With that said, I found the book to be the most
inspiring I have ever read. The most inspiring
letter was the fourth one. This letter touches me
most. It opened inside of me thoughts and
feelings I did not know I had. This letter alone
explores everything from sex to Life to being a
poet. His fourth letter, written from Worpswede,
just shocked my system to the core. In it was
everything I had questions about and nothing in
the world was left out of it.

This whole book inspired me to begin writing
poetry. I had never even thought of the idea
before, but now I know it makes sense.

I knew as I read the book that this man was one of
few greats that we have in our history. He is not
widely known outside of the poetic circle, but
should be. His works, especially Letters to a
Young Poet, should be read by everyone.

This book forced me to look at Life as I never had
before. This new outlook gave my Life a
direction. Now I am soon to publish my own poems
and I never would have started such a thing had it
not been for this book.

When you live your Life as you think the world
would like, you tend to become close-minded. Not
on purpose and perhaps you still believe yourself
to be an open-minded person. I did.
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Format:Mass Market Paperback
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This book is a treasure of a man of solitude and poetic ability to FEEL life, not simply an intellectual exercise like 99% people in our so called "enlightened" world so do. It's amazing how insightful Rilke was at such a young age. And yet the world today, the power, control and politics currently live in a fundamentally thinking world of one-sided blindness that is so far apart from Rilke that it is like a regression of humanity of large and major proportion, and in such a short amount of time.
On solitude and the ability to be childlike (not childish), that is, living in the present moment in appreciation of what simply is, apart from all concepts, occupations and fundamental thinking and answers of security and certainty, Rilke writes:
"There is one solitude and that is great . . . a great inner solitude. Going into oneself and for hours meeting no one - this one must be able to attain. To be solitary, the way one was solitary as a child, when the grownups went around involved with things that seemed important and big because they themselves looked so busy . . . and when one day one perceives that their occupations are paltry, their professions petrified and no longer linked with (real) living . . Only the individual who is solitary is like a thing placed under profound laws, and when he goes out into the morning that is just beginning, or looks out into the evening that is full of happening . . . all status drops from him as a dead man, though he stands in the midst of sheer life. pp. 45-47
Rilke knew that life was creative, an art not grasped by criticism and intellectualism:
"Words of art are of an infinite loneliness and with nothing so little to be reached as with criticism. Only love can grasp and hold and be just toward them." p.
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