Letters To A Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke

There is no voice other than Rilke’s soothing, gentle and unimposing one to urge us to close one chapter in life and open another in hopes of finding more pain and joy in apt measure. Rilke had no intention of publishing this book. These are actual letters written to a young poet, Frank Kappus seeking advice on his poems. The depth of knowledge and truth that these letters hold is almost otherworldly. The letters left a profound influence on me with the tone in which Rilke had written them – it was as if, he genuinely cared if his reader followed his advice.

Build Your Life Around Your Passion

Rilke questions the young poet’s dedication to writing: “This most of all: Ask yourself in the most silent hour of your night: must I write?” Though he tailored his advice to writing, which of course, resonates with me on multiple levels, Rilke addresses one of our deepest questions in life. “When it comes down to it, and I am alone, is what I love enough?” He makes us think about the choices we make in life and how we ultimately, make our decisions alone. One of the most terrifying truths he speaks about is that our lives may not automatically fulfill us.

At the same time, Rilke teaches us how to find our true calling. It’s no surprise that this is done in solitude. He asks us to go deep within ourselves, let the opinions of others fall far away and to let ourselves discover our values and passion in the most honest way. It isn’t about what makes us the most money or even what gives you happiness – it is about doing something that is deeply fulfilling. This, my friend is what we all crave for out of life – fulfilment.

Experience Everything To The Fullest Potential

“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. Perhaps you will gradually, without even noticing it, find yourself experiencing the answer, some distant day.”

Rilke teaches us to not draw conclusions too quickly from our life experiences. We are all too quick to judge and too quick to look at our past with blame and contempt. In order to not scrutinise every single thing that we go through, we should simply just let them happen. His words teach us to be ready for everything; to not exclude or block off any experience even the most torturous of them all. Live through them all and only then, we will be able to understand the depths of our own being.