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Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke

“The poetic practice requires solitude.”

As far as writing goes, experience has taught me that there is no objective reality. That imagination, creativity, and poetry flow out of necessity rather than ambition. And it’s only natural that the mind’s eye deceives itself into thinking and acting as if ambition is the truest starting-point.

Perhaps, after reading Rilke, one becomes self-aware enough to believe that before one meets the demands of a self - to become a poet or a writer - one must find the courage to become one’s own person. In literature, much like in art or poetry, transformations are eternally internal. They are solitary. They manifest as soon as you deepen the gaze into yourself, the nature of solitariness, your purpose of being. Everything else is a form of digression. Rilke’s Letters to Young Poet is both counsel and conversation. For the ‘young poet’, his reasons for writing are enough to bring you closer to yours. This is a simple book. It does not promise to explain the unexplainable. And it certainly does not teach you how to write. The lessons in this book are more intrinsic than what can be or ought to be penned on paper or can be or ought to be quantified or qualified as art. In matter-of-fact sentences Rilke has produced a whole universe for poets and writers to contemplate and interpret. The measures of which, Rilke believes, are infinitely altered for somebody who becomes solitary. So, when you come down to it, this is the only kind of preparation a writer or a poet needs without fear, without any limitations.

In fact, he also goes so far as to enumerate that if, after the descent into yourself, you find that your personal solitariness compels you to give up the idea of ever becoming a poet. Even then, this pause, this realization of self, is poetry enough to live with. The ambition, the germ that truly affects us is the one where we seek out the depths of things because that is where the origin of nature lies.

Rainer Maria Rilke's Letters to a Young Poet book on the bed

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