100 Enlightening Quotes By Rainer Maria Rilke, The Author Of Letters To A Young Poet
Poet & Novelist
Prague, Bohemia, Austria-Hungary
Rainer Maria Rilke was a Bohemian-Austrian poet and novelist who is widely known as one of the most lyrically intense German-language poet. Rilke’s writing was unique in context that it helped expand the realm of poetry through new uses of syntax and imagery. What gave Rilke an edge over other writers of his generation was his use of physical symbols instead of intellectual ones. Unlike Shakespeare who thought of the non-human world in terms of the human, Rilke thought of the human in terms of the non-human. In his life, Rilke developed his own philosophy that rejected the Catholic beliefs and Christianity and instead reconciled beauty and suffering, life and death, into one philosophy. He did not believe that Christ was divine and instead argued Him to be entirely human. Over the years, Rilke’s work found new audiences through its use by New Age theologians and through frequent quoting in television programs, books and motion pictures. Other than his poetic verses and prose, Rilke’s line of belief and thought can also be visible in his quotes that touch wide variety of aspects of life. Browse through this section and find some of the best known quotes by Rainer Maria Rilke.
We need, in love, to practice only this: letting each other go. For holding on comes easily; we do not need to learn it. Let everything happen to you
Beauty and terror
Just keep going
No feeling is final I live my life in widening circles that reach out across the world. I want to be with those who know secret things or else alone. Find out the reason that commands you to write; see whether it has spread its roots into the very depth of your heart; confess to yourself you would have to die if you were forbidden to write. The work of the eyes is done. Go now and do the heart-work on the images imprisoned within you. Love consists of this: two solitudes that meet, protect and greet each other. The purpose of life is to be defeated by greater and greater things. Have patience with everything that remains unsolved in your heart.
...live in the question. And now we welcome the new year, full of things that have never been For beauty is nothing but the beginning of terror
which we are barely able to endure, and it amazes us so,
because it serenely disdains to destroy us.
Every angel is terrible. The only journey is the one within. Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading. Make your ego porous. Will is of little importance, complaining is nothing, fame is nothing. Openness, patience, receptivity, solitude is everything. If your daily life seems poor, do not blame it; blame yourself, tell yourself that you are not poet enough to call forth its riches; for to the creator there is no poverty and no poor indifferent place. A person isn't who they are during the last conversation you had with them - they're who they've been throughout your whole relationship. Let life happen to you. Believe me: life is in the right, always. I hold this to be the highest task of a bond between two people: that each should stand guard over the solitude of the other. It is spring again. The earth is like a child that knows poems by heart. Embrace your solitude and love it. Endure the pain it causes, and try to sing out with it. For those near to you are distant... The necessary thing is after all but this; solitude, great inner solitude. Going into oneself for hours meeting no one - this one must be able to attain. If you are patient in one moment of anger, you will escape a hundred days of sorrow This is what the things can teach us: to fall, patiently to trust our heaviness. Even a bird has to do that before he can fly. Think... of the world you carry within you. You are not too old
and it is not too late
to dive into your increasing depths
where life calmly gives out
it's own secret Yet, no matter how deeply I go down into myself, my God is dark, and like a webbing made of a hundred roots that drink in silence. May what I do flow from me like a river, no forcing and no holding back, the way it is with children. That’s love: Two lonely persons keep each other safe and touch each other and talk to each other. If we surrendered
to earth's intelligence
we could rise up rooted, like trees. I am circling around God, around the ancient tower, and I have been circling for a thousand years, and I still don't know if I am a falcon, or a storm, or a great song. But your solitude will be a support and a home for you, even in the midst of very unfamiliar circumstances, and from it you will find all your paths. Every angel is terrifying. I live not in dreams but in contemplation of a reality that is perhaps the future. Everything is blooming most recklessly; if it were voices instead of colors, there would be an unbelievable shrieking into the heart of the night. How can I keep my soul in me, so that it doesn't touch your soul? How can I raise it high enough, past you, to other things? Everything terrible is something that needs our love. If you will stay close to nature, to its simplicity, to the small things hardly noticeable, those things can unexpectedly become great and immeasurable. I am the rest between two notes which are somehow always in discord. A billion stars go spinning through the night, / glittering above your head, / But in you is the presence that will be / when all the stars are dead. I love the dark hours of my being.
My mind deepens into them.
There I can find, as in old letters,
the days of my life, already lived,
and held like a legend, and understood. There are no classes in life for beginners: right away you are always asked to deal with what is most difficult. Most people come to know only one corner of their room, one spot near the window, one narrow strip on which they keep walking back and forth. In the deepest hour of the night, confess to yourself that you would die if you were forbidden to write. And look deep into your heart where it spreads its roots, the answer, and ask yourself, must I write? And you should not let yourself be confused in your solitude by the fact that there is something in you that wants to move out of it. Our heart always transcends us. If no one else, the dying must notice how unreal, how full of pretense, is all that we accomplish here, where nothing is allowed to be itself. This is the miracle that happens every time to those who really love: the more they give, the more they possess. Shattered people are best represented by bits and pieces. But there is much beauty here, because there is much beauty everywhere. Comfort me from wherever you are–alone, we are quickly worn out; if I place my head on the road, let it seem softened by you. Could it be that even from afar we offer each other a gentle breath? Live your questions now, and perhaps even without knowing it, you will live along some distant day into your answers. Perhaps the same bird echoed through both of us yesterday, seperate, in the evening. The future enters into us, in order to transform itself in us, long before it happens. Where something becomes extremely difficult and unbearable, there we also stand already quite near its transformation. All the soarings of my mind begin in my blood. Who has not sat before his own heart's curtain? It lifts: and the scenery is falling apart. She followed slowly, taking a long time,
As though there were some obstacles in the way;
And yet: as though, once it was overcome,
She would be beyond all walking, and would fly. Let your beauty manifest itself
without talking and calculation.
You are silent. It says for you: I am.
And comes in meaning thousandfold,
comes at long last over everyone. He does not always remain bent over the
pages; he often leans back and closes
his eyes over a line he has been reading
again, and its meaning spreads through
his blood. It is part of the nature of every definitive love that sooner or later it can reach the beloved only in infinity. As if no one had ever tried before, try to say what you see and feel and love and lose. Right in the difficult we must have our joys, our happiness, our dreams: there against the depth of this background, they stand out, there for the first time we see how beautiful they are. Strangely, I heard a stranger say, I am with you. Earth, my dearest, oh believe me, you no longer need your springtimes to win me over...Unspeakably, I have belonged to you, from the flush. But because truly being here is so much; because everything here apparently needs us, this fleeting world, which in some strange way keeps calling to us. Us, the most fleeting of all. Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror. It is good to be solitary, for solitude is difficult; that something is difficult must be a reason the more for us to do it. It is a tremendous act of violence to begin anything. I am not able to begin. I simply skip what should be the beginning. Never forget that solitude is my lot ... I implore those who love me to love my solitude."
(Letter to Mimi Romanelli, May 11, 1910) Girls, there are poets who learn from you
to say, what you, in your aloneness, are;
and they learn through you to live distantness,
as the evenings through the great stars
become accustomed to eternity. Whoever you are, go out into the evening,
leaving your room, of which you know every bit;
your house is the last before the infinite,
whoever you are. The highest form of love is to be the protector of another person’s solitude. You darkness, that I come from, I love you more than all the fires that fence in the world. A work of art is good if it has arisen out of necessity. That is the only way one can judge it. Destiny itself is like a wonderful wide tapestry in which every thread is guided by an unspeakable tender hand, placed beside another thread and held and carried by a hundred others. That is the principal thing-not to remain with the dream, with the intention, with the being-in-the-mood, but always forcibly to convert it all into things. The deepest experience of the creator is feminine, for it is experience of receiving and bearing. Works of art are of an infinite solitude, and no means of approach is so useless as criticism. Only love can touch and hold them and be fair to them. I have never been aware before how many faces there are. There are quantities of human beings, but there are many more faces, for each person has several. Rose, oh pure contradiction, joy
of being No-one's sleep under so many
lids. There is only one journey. Going inside yourself. Look, I am living. On what? Neither
childhood nor future
lessens . . . . Superabundant existence
wells in my heart. Perhaps then, some day far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer. I am much too alone in this world, yet not alone enough Perhaps somewhere, someplace deep inside your being, you have undergone important changes while you were sad. Life is heavier than the weight of all things. You are nearing the land that is life; you will recognize it by its seriousness. All things want to float. Beauty is only the start of bearable terror. You, darkness, of whom I am born- I love you more than the flame that limits the world to the circle it illumines and excludes the rest. Everyone once, once only. Just once and no more. And we also once. Never again. But this having been once, although only once, to have been of the earth, seems irrevocable. We are not allowed to linger, even with what is most intimate. All emotions are pure which gather you and lift you up; that emotion is impure which seizes only one side of your being and so distorts you.
Art too is just a way of living.
So we are grasped by what we cannot grasp.
Do not allow yourself to be misled by the surfaces of things
Your solitude will expand and become a place where you can live in the twilight, where the noise of other people passes, far in the distance.
I am a house gutted by fire where only the guilty sometimes sleep before the punishment that devours them hounds them out in the open.
We make our way through Everything like thread passing through fabric, giving shape to images that we ourselves do not know. And as for the rest, let life happen to you. Believe me: life is in the right, always.