Letters to a Young Poet

Rainer Maria Rilke

It’s hard to read a book like this for the first time, after hearing so often what an amazing read it is. I felt kind of disappointed in it until the last few letters, which are just plainly beautiful.

I believe that nearly all our griefs are moments of tension. We perceive them as crippling because we no longer hear signs of life from our estranged emotions. We are alone with the strange thing that has stepped into our presence. For a moment everything intimate and familiar has been taken from us. We stand in the midst of a transition, where we cannot remain standing.

And this is the reason the sadness passes: the something new within us, the thing that has joined us, has entered our heart, has gone into its innermost chamber and is no longer there either — it is already in the blood. And we do not find out what it was. One could easily make us believe that nothing happened; and yet we have been changed, as a house is changed when a guest has entered it. We cannot say who came; we shall perhaps never known. But many signals affirm that the future has stepped into us in such a way as to change itself into us, and that long before it manifests itself outwardly.

I love what Rilke writes about loneliness as well. I’m sure I’ll return to this again someday.