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From Letters to A Young Poet, by Ranier Maria Rilke

"You are so young, so before all beginning, and I want to beg you, as much as I can, dear sir, to be patient toward all that is unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves like locked rooms and like books that are written in a very foreign tongue. Do not 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 along some distant day into the answer." From: Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke

"And your doubt may become a good quality if you train it. It must become knowing, it must become critical. Ask it, whenever it wants to spoil something for you, why something is ugly, demand proofs from it, test it, and you will find it perplexed and embarrassed perhaps, or perhaps rebelious. But don't give in, insist on arguments and act this way, watchful and consistent, every single time, and the day will arrive when from a destroyer it will become one of your best workers-- perhaps the cleverest of all that are building at your life" (p. 74).

". . . . perhaps all the dragons of our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us once beautiful and brave. Perhaps everything terrible is in its deepest being something helpless that wants help from us. So you must not be frightened . . . if a sadness rises up before you larger than any you have ever seen; if a restiveness, like light and cloud-shadows, passes over your hands and over all you do. You must think that something is happening with you, that life has not forgotten you, that it holds you in its hand; it will not let you fall. Why do you want to shut out of your life any agitation, any pain, any melancholy, since you really do not know what these states are working upon you?"

". . . just remember that sickness is the means by which an organism frees itself of foreign matter; so one must just help it to be sick, for that is its progress. In you, . . . so much is now happening; you must be patient as a sick man and confident as a convalescent; for perhaps you are both. And more: you are the doctor too, who has to watch over himself. But there are in every illness those days when the doctor can do nothing but wait. And this it is that you, insofar as you are your own doctor, must now above all else do" ? (pp. 69-70).

". .. . and let me here promptly make a request: read as little as possible of aesthetic criticism--such things are either partisian views, petrified and grown senseless in their lifeless induration, or they are clever quibblings in which today one view wins and tomorrow the opposite. Works of art are of an infinite loneliness and with nothing so little to be reached as with criticism. Only love can grasp and hold and be just toward them. . . . Leave to your opinions their own quiet undistrubed development, which, like all progress, must come from deep within and cannot be pressed or hurried by anything. Everything is gestation and then bringing forth. To let each impression and each germ of a feeling come to completion wholly in itself, in the dark, in the inexpressible, the unconscious, beyond the reach of ones' own intelligence, and await with deep humililty and patience the birth-hour of a º new clarity: that alone is living the artist's life: in understanding as in creating. . . . ripening like a tree which does not force its sap and stands confident in the storms of spring without the fear that after them may come no summer. It does come. But it comes only to the patient, who are there as though eternity lay before them, so unconcernedly still and wide. I learn it daily, learn it with pain to which I am grateful: patience is everything (pp. 29-30)."

"To love is good, too: love being difficult. For one human being to love another: that is perhaps the most difficult of all our tasks, the ultimate, the last test and proof, the work for which all other work is but preparation. For this reason young people, who are beginners in everything, cannot yet know love: they have to learn it. With their whole being, with all their forces, gathered close about their lonely, timid, upward-beating heart, they must learn to love. But learning-time is often a secluded time, and so loving, for a long while ahead and far on into life, is--solitude, intensified and deepened loneness for him who loves. Love is at first not anything that means merging, giving over, and uniting with another (for what would a union be of something unclarified and unfinished, still subordinate--?), it is a high inducement to the individual to ripen, to become something in himself, to become world, to become world for himself for another's sake, it is a great exacting claim upon him, something that chooses him out and calls him to vast things (pp. 53-54)."

"Everyone must find in his work the center of his life and thence be able to grow out radially as far as may be. And no one else may watch him in the process . . . for not even he himself may do that. There is a kind of cleanliness and purity in it, in this looking way from oneself; it is as though one were drawing, one's gaze bound to the object, interwoven with Nature, while one's hand goes its own way somewhere below, goes on and on, gets timid, wavers, is glad again, goes on and on far below the face that stands like a star above it, not looking, only shining. I feel as though I had always worked that way; face gazing at far things, hands alone. And so it surely ought to be I should be like that again in time."

From: Book of Hours by Rainer Maria Rilke

"At bottom one seeks in everything new (country or person or thing) only an expression that helps some personal confession to greater power and maturity. All things are there in order that they may . . . become images for us. And they do not suffer from it, for while they are expressing us more and more clearly, our souls close over them in the same measure. And I feel in these days that Russian things will give me the names for those most timid devoutnesses of my nature which, since my childhood, have been longing to enter my art."