The Soul-Expanding Value of Difficulty: Rilke on How Great Sadnesses Transform Us and Bring Us Closer to Ourselves

By Maria Popova

Rilke_Letters-to-a-young-poet

Rainer Maria Rilkes classic Letters to a Young Poet (public library) is among those very few texts — alongside Thoreau’s journal, Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird, and Annie Dillard’s Pilgrim at Tinker Creek — that I read like one does scripture. In the century since its publication, Rilke’s reflections have proven timeless and timely, over and over, in countless human lives — a wealth of enduring ideas on how to live the questions and what it really means to love.

Perhaps his most piercing insight and sagest advice — not only for the recipient, the 19-year-old cadet and budding poet Franz Xaver Kappus, but for every human being with a beating heart and a restless mind — comes from a letter penned on August 12, 1904.

Read the complete article

An early reminder that on September 22 we will be discussing the poetry of Rainier Maria Rilke, (focusing on translations by Stephen Mitchell and J.B. Leishman). See the SCHEDULE PAGE for a list of poems to be featured.

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