Letters written over a period of several years on the vocation of writing by a poet whose greatest work was still to come.
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. This is because they are the indispensable words from the heart of an evolved soul and master poet. The words Rainer Maria Rilke writes to Franz Kappus are never harsh, never judgmental, or critical; they are always kind, thoughtful and gentle. By sharing his own deep understanding of the nature of humanity and the creative spirit, Rilke encourages us all to reach for limitless possibilities and discover our own wellspring of being.
"It is always my wish that you might find enough patience within yourself to endure, and enough innocence to have faith."
-Rainer Maria Rilke on bringing the inner and outer life into harmony
author of Perfectly Said: when words become art
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. 29
This is because life is not about the answers, for truth only stands in relativity, as the intellectual fails to realize, only living in despair or in bogus formulas for safety. For life is about living dangerously in the difficult, not in the comfort zones, which ultimately are not real comfort, but illusion of such. Living in the fast lane but with discernment, there is a balance, like a tamed down Dr. Faust.
"Do not 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." p. 35
" We must assume our existence as broadly as we in any way can; everything, even the unheard-of, must be possible in it. That is at bottom the only courage that is demanded of us: to have courage for the most strange, the most singular and the most inexplicable that we may encounter."
And finally to sum Rilke's incredible insight,
"Nobody can counsel you and help you, nobody. There is only one single way. Go into yourself."