Rainier Maria Rilke on Creativity and Living the Mystery


Rainier Maria Rilke

I was so taken by this passage in Letters to a Young Poet by Rainier Maria Rilke, one of the German language’s greatest poets, that I felt compelled to share it here. These ten now-famous letters from Rilke to a young military student named Franz Xaver Kappus, written from 1903 to 1908, have inspired countless thousands of seekers to look within themselves for the truth they thirst for and cannot live without.

The following excerpt, written so beautifully and poetically, is from a 1984 version of Letters to a Young Poet that was translated by Stephen Mitchell.

“The thought of being a creator, of engendering, of shaping” is nothing without its continuous great confirmation and embodiment in the world, nothing without the thousand-fold assent from Things and animals—and our enjoyment of it is so indescribably beautiful and rich only because it is full of inherited memories of the engendering and birthing of millions.

In one creative thought a thousand forgotten nights of love come to life again and fill it with majesty and exaltation. And those who come together in the nights and are entwined in rocking delight perform a solemn task and gather sweetness, depth, and strength for the song of some future poet, who will appear in order to say ecstasies that are unsayable.

And they call forth the future; and even if they have made a mistake and embrace blindly, the future comes anyway, a new human being arises, and on the foundation of the accident that seems to be accomplished here, there awakens the law by which a strong, determined seed forces its way through to the egg cell that openly advances to meet it. Don’t be confused by surfaces; in the depths everything becomes law.

And those who live the mystery falsely and badly (and they are very many) lose it only for themselves and nevertheless pass it on like a sealed letter, without knowing it.

Click here to read Rilke’s thoughts on finding meaning in sadness.


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2 Responses to “Rainier Maria Rilke on Creativity and Living the Mystery”

  1. Itamar Martinez Says:

    la poesia de Rilke,fue un soporte en my adolecencia,caminamos juntos la soledad,la dicha y los temores;de su poesia entendi;la estetica,de la ternura,del vivir para el estudio y la contemplacion;
    la revista ECO de Colombia,en sus diversos numeros traia articulos y poemas de lo mas granado de los poetas y filosofos alemanes y del mundo,fue mi universidad..pero Rilke brilla en mi como una estrella de cuarta magnitud..ademas fue secretario de del mas grande escultor de su tiempo.RODIN…www.itamarmartinez.com

  2. Phil Bolsta Says:

    I have no idea what your comment is, Itamar. But i assume it is heartfelt and worth posting.

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