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38 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars For the Artist
This book first came to my attention when a good friend of mine sent me a quote from it, which has since become my life quote ("Be patient toward everything unresolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves..Do not search for the answers which could not be given to you now because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live...
Published on October 24, 1998

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37 of 40 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars New edition of Letters to a young poet loses in translation
This is my third encounter with This collection of letters written by Rilke to a young poet who sought his guidance and approval a century ago. The first edition or translation I believe is the best with this new edition being my last out of the three editions I know. The translator, who saught to make Rilke's word accessible to the readers of todays world , in so doing...
Published on October 18, 2000 by Tascha Dresser


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4.0 out of 5 stars The Power of Solitude, October 19, 2014
This review is from: Letters to a Young Poet (Hardcover)
I received this book from my niece Hilary, who is more a cherished friend than a niece. Over the past two years since my move to the Minneapolis, we were once a week dining partners. Then in the summer of 2014 she was my house guest, along with my son Jack. We all grew close in spirit. They being young were pursuing careers and lives that would eventually send us in separate directions. Our spirits will forever be entwined. Hilary an artist appreciates that I write poetry, a form of literary art one could say. She left this book as a motivator for me to continue writing, especially through tough lonely times.
The book is merely ten letters that Rilke has written to a friend of his who is a young soldier of the military. Rilke is an Austro-Hungarian German of the 19th century, with a French pen, whose critics claim him to be ineffable, a mystic. In his indirect response and merely coincidence, Rilke writes a letters to his protégé espousing the values of poetry’s seed. Poetry in my mind and apparently Rilke’s is intended to convey a thought that transcends words and therefore falls into the category of art. So where is the rub? Words in a scientific world state ‘black & white’ fact with the intent to convey a physical observation. In life there is more than science, there feeling, the internalization of physical observation. There is meaning. Poetry allows for the meaning of life to be expressed in a way, through metaphor and abstract. That said, being critical is counter-intuitive to Rilke.
Rilkes’ ten letters, ironically ten, have two common themes. The first is apologetic for tardy responses to the ‘Young Poets’ letters. There is in my mind no relevance to the Rilke’s intended message. It only makes this short book a little longer to read. Also, in this collection of letters the reader does not have the perspective of reading the corresponding letters from his recipient. One could only conclude that the ‘Young Poet’ is a poet by nature, stuck in a military career that hopefully will see an end. This being the character of the book only adds to the mystique and method of Rilke. The reader is left to internalize in his own first person to draw a relevance of pertinent meaning. The second theme is to use the time spent alone, the seclusion from society, to go within. In my words Rilke consistently recommends his reader to leverage the loneliness of military life to go within, for there is where you find true meaning, yourself, God.
His last letter to me is my favorite. I’ll provide an excerpt to give example of Rilke’s lyrical prose.
The silence must be immense where there is space for such sound and movements. And when one realizes that the presence of the distant sea and its melody is added to all this, perhaps as the innermost tone in this prehistoric harmony, then I can only wish that you trustingly and patiently allow that grand solitude to work in you. It is no longer possible to be erased from your life. It shall be imminent in all that you experience and all that you do. It will act as an anonymous influence, akin to how ancestral blood constantly moves and merges with our own links with that of an individual, never to be unlinked. It is gently decisive at each crossroad of our life.
In keeping with the theme to not be critical, and rather to be a participant in the spirit of Rilke; I close this review with my very first poem. I was eighteen at the time, a student living in a tepee, at Northwestern Michigan College. I was sitting on a hillside in Leelanau County over looking Grand Traverse Bay. The poem is still forty years later, untitled...keyword cigarroomofbooks to read my first poem.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Rare Find, May 26, 2005
For one human being to love another is perhaps the most difficult task of all, the epitome, the ultimate test. It is that striving for which all other striving is merely preparation. ~Rainer Maria Rilke

After recently discovering twelve little treasures, I was eager to read the first book, Letters To a Young Poet, by candlelight on my deck. In the silence of the night the candle kept me company while peering into the world of two poets captured in an intimate exchange of ideas.

Franz Xaver Kappus first discovers the "Poems of Rainer Maria Rilke" and then seeks out his advice. Franz mails Rainer his poems and their correspondence lasts until 1908. This book contains ten letters from 1903 to 1908.

The letters are from Rainer to Franz and none of the poems they discuss have been included. This would have been enlightening, but alas, I have yet to find the poems they discuss. It is not necessary to read the poems to enjoy the letters and after reading the letters, I now want to read Rainer's poems.

Rainer Maria Rilke is quite generous with his advice and explores various aspects of life as observed by a poet. He explains how critical words influence a work of art less than praise and then delicately composes a brief analysis of Franz Xaver Kappus' poems.

For the most part, Rainer seems to be giving advice about being patient, embracing struggle and how to understand the connection between primeval urges and art. He also gives advice about solitude and sexuality in regards to the artistic temperament.

"Everything in nature grows and struggles in its own way, establishing its own identity, insisting on it at all cost, against all resistance." ~Rainer Maria Rilke

Letters To A Young Poet is a rare find and if you are seeking to gaze through a small window and to view a brief glimpse of the artistic life, then I can highly recommend this tiny treasure to you. If you read this book, I can almost guarantee you will want to find additional books by Rainer Maria Rilke because they will give insight into your own life and personal transformation. I especially loved the letter where Rainer discusses having patience "with everything that remains unsolved in your heart." He suggests that we try to love the questions.

Then I had a thought about the answers being of little importance when compared to the knowledge of the questions very existence. Mostly because the answers are the mystery and even Rainer admits that "they cannot now be given to you because you could not live them."

~The Rebecca Review
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Must Have in Your Library, September 11, 2014
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This review is from: Letters to a Young Poet (Hardcover)
I always keep an extra copy of this book on hand for gifts. I first read it my freshman year and college and reread it at least once a year. It is truly inspirational. I think most people will be able to relate to the wisdom and advice that Rilke offers to a young poet. If you can't apply it to your own life, it is still a wonderful read! I reread it at least once a year.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing, July 3, 2014
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This review is from: Letters to a Young Poet (Hardcover)
This book is amazing. A very well written set of letters filled with life advice that while written awhile ago still applies to modern day society. Also a good introduction to Rilke in general.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Advice to a young poet that is his own credo, March 17, 2014
This review is from: Letters to a Young Poet (Hardcover)
The depth the beauty and the wondrous metaphorical and poetical power of Rilke pervade this work. He is speaking to the young poet but one feels he is really saying what he himself has to say about his own solitude, his own search for some kind of hidden truth and beauty, his own way in making a life as a poet.
I admit that I do not know how to classify it. But there is something uncanny and especially remarkable and beautiful in Rilke's thought. There is a sense of presence a power that draws one to his lines and finds in them something wonderful and wholly original.
He is it seems to me most 'existensialist' poet in feeling so strongly and outlining truly the meaning of his own 'lived life' his own experience.
He is a poet like no other, and in this a true poet whose lines I cannot decipher as they suggest they mean more , are richer and fuller in suggestion than anything I can transcribe or perceive.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Want a guideline for life, March 16, 2014
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This review is from: Letters to a Young Poet (Hardcover)
No matter the date it has been written it molds to anyones lifestyle and what they want to accomplish. Great book.
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4.0 out of 5 stars especially for creatives & contemplatives, January 5, 2014
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This review is from: Letters to a Young Poet (Hardcover)
I learned the importance of translation while enjoying many of Edith Grossman's beautiful reworkings of Gabriel Garcia Marquez' books from Spanish into English. Another translator of note has come to my attention in Joan Marie Burnham, who in 2000 published a German-to-English translation of Ranier Maria Rilke's LETTERS TO A YOUNG POET. There is skilled wordcraft evident in Burnham's translation.

This work is brief, but rife with Rilke's caring advice for his eponymous younger correspondent about life and such major subjects as art, sexuality, and aloneness. Lesser emphasis is given to the topics of feminism and security.

Especially recommended for creatives and contemplatives.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Necessary reading?, October 30, 2013
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Great read! Probably essential if you're trying to find your artistic voice. Apparently I need eight more words to submit this review.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Wisdom, January 17, 2013
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This review is from: Letters to a Young Poet (Hardcover)
I've picked this book up and meandered through it many times since it came last month. It holds depth and wisdom which could benefit everyone.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic, October 16, 2012
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This review is from: Letters to a Young Poet (Hardcover)
I absolutely adore this book and I highly recommend it to everyone. This book provides great inspiration for writers of poetry, narrative, or any other type if artist. Rilke's words can give a person of any age a clear reason to create.
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Letters to a Young Poet
Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke (Hardcover - March 7, 2000)
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