izhilzha (izhilzha) wrote,
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10 Books to Read in 2015: Letters to a Young Poet

I bought a paperback copy of Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke in a used bookstore when I was at university in Canada. It's a very thin book, and yet I never got around to reading it. I carried it home to Oregon, from there to Los Angeles and through two different apartments before my marriage. And now I have finally read it! (In the end, with the help of a loaner copy when mine got misplaced during our move, thanks to my RL friend S.A.!)


Reading this book is like having a mentor in the craft of writing. I wish I'd read it in college. I wouldn't have understood half of it, but it would have been good for me.

Quotes from this book impacted my life long before I read it. Dan and I quoted from it on our wedding invitations:

“The point of marriage is not to create a quick commonality by tearing down all boundaries; on the contrary, a good marriage is one in which each partner appoints the other to be the guardian of his solitude, and thus they show each other the greatest possible trust. A merging of two people is an impossibility, and where it seems to exist, it is a hemming-in, a mutual consent that robs one party or both parties of their fullest freedom and development. But once the realization is accepted that even between the closest people infinite distances exist, a marvelous living side-by-side can grow up for them, if they succeed in loving the expanse between them, which gives them the possibility of always seeing each other as a whole and before an immense sky.”

Another one helped keep me on a path of growth in my late-20s faith:

“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live some distant day into the answer.”

My favorite quote right now, utterly context-free: “Perhaps all the dragons in our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us act, just once, with beauty and courage. Perhaps everything that frightens us is, in its deepest essence, something helpless that wants our love.”

I recommend this book for immediate reading—as it is super short and can be read in chunks of a few pages; fantastic for bedtime—to anyone who is an artist or thinks they might want to be. Brad, Laura, Anna, Andrew, all my writer friends... this means you. (You too, Mom. I think this book will intrigue you, though take a few things with a grain of salt, because Rilke is very introverted!)
Tags: books, quotey, rilke, writing
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