Summary of the Article
The discourse entitled Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke presented diverse letters starting from one which was written in Paris on February 1903 and ending with a letter, five years later which was dated December 1908, also in Paris, and written by the author to a young poet, named Mr. Kappus. Letters five to seven actually started with the letter written in Rome on October 29, 1903 which talked about Rilke’s travel to Rome; letter six, dated December 29, 1903, talked about solitude and God; while the seventh letter (dated May 14, 1904) continued relevant discussions on topics ranging from solitude to various aspects of love.
Four Favorite Quotations from the Text
“What is necessary, after all, is only this: solitude, vast inner solitude. To walk inside yourself and meet no one for hours — that is what you must be able to attain” ;
“We know little, but that we must trust in what is difficult is a certainty that will never abandon us; t is good to be solitary, for solitude is difficult; that something is difficult must be one more reason for us to do it” ;
“It is also good to love: because love is difficult. For one human being to love another human being: that is perhaps the most difficult task that has been entrusted to us, the ultimate task, the final test and proof, the work for which all other work is merely preparation” (24); and
“I believe that that love remains strong and intense in your memory because it was your first deep aloneness and the first inner work that you did on your life” .
Question/Response to the Text
Question: Why did the author’s visit to Rome stifle him with sadness?
Response: According to Rilke (17), the visit to Rome allegedly stifles him with sadness within the first few days of the journey because the place is replete with memories of the past that seemed distant and apparently not part of contemporary life. As asserted, the presence of lifeless and gloomy museums, as well as presence of structural edifices and architectural works that were described as disfigured and decaying, apparently contribute to the visitors’ perceived feelings of loneliness.
Discussion Question to Peers: Why did the author say that young people are not yet capable of
love; and how did he aim to explain the concept of love as a learning process?
Single Most Intriguing Point within the Text
The single most intriguing point in the text is the author’s discussion about God and the concept of losing Him or being lost by him . The author provided different questions to the young poet in terms of asserting that, instead of advocating losing God, Rilke suggested that it could have been more appropriate to indicate that the young author has actually not found God or was not in possession of Him. Likewise, Rilke added more questions that seemed to deepen the inquiry for further reflection of the young poet. As such, this point was very intriguing since inquiries regarding a person’s faith or religious orientation and beliefs are always controversial and debatable. He even included concerns regarding God’s existence or the
apparent process of God actually coming to a believer’s life.
Rilke, Rainer Marie. "Letters to a Young Poet." 2001. Scriptor Press. http://www.scriptorpress.com/burningmanbooks/14_2001_rilkeletters.pdf. 16 September 2013.