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Letters to a Young Poet Mass Market Paperback – October 12, 1986

ISBN-13: 978-0394741048 ISBN-10: 0394741048 Edition: 1st

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Letters to a Young Poet + The Selected Poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke (English and German Edition) + Rilke on Love and Other Difficulties: Translations and Considerations
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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; 1 edition (October 12, 1986)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0394741048
  • ISBN-13: 978-0394741048
  • Product Dimensions: 6.9 x 4.2 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (63 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #284,476 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

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.

Language Notes

Text: English, German (translation)

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Customer Reviews

This is the edition to buy.
BMR
This is one of my favorite books of all time for this reason, and I highly recommend it.
doc peterson
It's amazing how insightful Rilke was at such a young age.
R. Schwartz

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

117 of 121 people found the following review helpful By Jaycel Adkins on October 2, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Written with a simple, elegant, and com(passionate) prose, Rainer Maria Rilke pens a series of letters to a young aspiring poet, Franz Xaver Kappus that contain a stunningly beautiful argument and plea for living an authentic life, that addresses the silent questions that exist in the deepest chambers of our hearts, the grand themes of literature, and hence life: the meaning of solitude and how to love.
The first letter gives the greatest advice anyone can give to someone aspiring to be anything. You have to ask yourself the following question: "must I?" If you answer in the affirmative, then "build your life in accordance with this necessity; your whole life, even into it's humblest and most indifferent hour, must become a sign and witness to this impulse." That you must only judge Art by the following value, has it arisen out of necessity?
The second letter, he warns against the role of irony running through your life and one must guard against it by searching "into the depths of Things: there irony never descends."
The third letter argues that one must always trust in yourself and your own feelings. Do not fall victim to convention. Which is nothing more than unwillingness on each of our parts to not fully engage life, but rather to take what others have said and done as well-traveled roads to walk through life upon. For the person living a poetic life, "everything is gestation and then birthing. To let each impression and each embryo of a feeling come to completion, entirely in itself, in the dark, in the unsayable...and with deep humility and patience to wait for the hour when a new clarity is born: this alone is what it means to live as an artist: in understanding as in creating."
The fourth letter argues for one to trust in Nature.
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45 of 46 people found the following review helpful By Neil W. Smith on March 19, 2006
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I find Stephen Mitchell's translation far superior to that if The New World Library. Compare this passage:

"Perhaps all dragons in our lives are really princesses just waiting to see us just once being beautiful and courageous."(NWL)

"Perhaps all the dragons in our lives are really princesses waiting for us to act, just once, with beauty and courage."(SM)

I only wish Miller's were as beautifully hard bound as NWL's.
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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By R. Schwartz on April 21, 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
.
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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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Laura Turner on May 6, 2006
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Why have I not read this glorious volume sooner? l can't imagine living one day longer without immersing myself within the folds of the pages of Rainer Maria Rilke's Letter's To A Young Poet. This book is solely responsible for setting me free a a writer and creative spirit. After reading it, I feel as if I have the permission to create not only works of my own writing but high art, or whatever is inside my soul needling to be set free.

I leave you with this quote which tells all: "No one can advise or help you - no one. There is only one thing you should do. Go into yourself. Find out the reason that commands you to write; see whether it has spread its roots into the very depths of your heart; confess to yourself whether you would have to die if you were forbidden to write. This most of all: ask yourself in the most silent hour of your night: must I write? Dig into yourself for a deep answer. And if this answer rings out in assent, if you meet this solemn question with a strong, simple 'I must,' then build you life in accordance with this necessity; your whole life, even into its humblest and most indifferent hour, must become a sign and witness to this impulse."
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