Rainer Maria Rilke
1875 – 1926
Who was Rainer Maria Rilke?
René Karl Wilhelm Johann Josef Maria Rilke — better known as Rainer Maria Rilke — was a Bohemian-Austrian poet and novelist, "widely recognized as one of the most lyrically intense German-language poets", writing in both verse and highly lyrical prose. Several critics have described Rilke's work as inherently "mystical". His writings include one novel, several collections of poetry, and several volumes of correspondence in which he invokes haunting images that focus on the difficulty of communion with the ineffable in an age of disbelief, solitude, and profound anxiety. These deeply existential themes tend to position him as a transitional figure between the traditional and the modernist writers.
Rilke was born in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, travelled extensively throughout Europe and North Africa, including Russia, Spain, Germany, France, Italy, and in his later years settled in Switzerland—settings that were key to the genesis and inspiration for many of his poems. While Rilke is most known for his contributions to German literature, over 400 poems were originally written in French and dedicated to the canton of Valais in Switzerland. Among English-language readers, his best-known works include the poetry collections Duino Elegies and Sonnets to Orpheus, the semi-autobiographical novel The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge, and a collection of ten letters that was published after his death under the title Letters to a Young Poet. In the later 20th century, his work has found new audiences through its use by New Age theologians and self-help authors, and through frequent quoting in television programs, books and motion pictures. In the United States, Rilke is one of the more popular, best-selling poets—along with 13th-century Sufi mystic Rumi and 20th-century Lebanese-American poet Khalil Gibran.
- The purpose of life is to be defeated by greater and greater things
- At the bottom no one in life can help anyone else in life; this one experiences over and over in every conflict and every perplexity: that one is alone. That isn't as bad as it may first appear; and again it is the best thing in life that each should have everything in himself; his fate, his future, his whole expanse and world.
- Who's not sat tense before his own heart's curtain.
- Ideally a painter (and, generally, an artist) should not become conscious of his insights: without taking the detour through his reflective processes, and incomprehensibly to himself, all his progress should enter so swiftly into the work that he is unable to recognize them in the moment of transition. Alas, the artist who waits in ambush there, watching, detaining them, will find them transformed like the beautiful gold in the fairy tale which cannot remain gold because some small detail was not taken care of.
- Physical pleasure is a sensual experience no different from pure seeing or the pure sensation with which a fine fruit fills the tongue; it is a great unending experience, which is given us, a knowing of the world, the fullness and the glory of all knowing. And not our acceptance of it is bad; the bad thing is that most people misuse and squander this experience and apply it as a stimulant at the tired spots of their lives and as distraction instead of a rallying toward exalted moments.
- I feel it now: there's a power in me to grasp and give shape to my world I know that nothing has ever been real without my beholding it. All becoming has need me..
- There is here no measuring with time, no year matters, and ten years are nothing. Being an artist means, not reckoning and counting, but ripening like the tree which does not force it's sap and stands confident in the storms of Spring without the fear that after them may come no Summer. It does come. I learn it daily, learn it with pain to which I am grateful
- The only journey is the one within.
- Surely all art is the result of one's having been in danger, of having gone through an experience all the way to the end, where no one can go any further.
- This is the miracle that happens every time to those who really love; the more they give, the more they possess.
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