Words of Encouragement

I first read Rainier Wilke’s “Letters to a Young Poet” while sitting on a friend’s porch in Juneau, Alaska, overlooking the mountains. Seaplanes buzzed by and the natural beauty of my surroundings was a perfect backdrop for Rilke’s comforting, timeless words: “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 now 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 along some distant day into the answer.” Rilke wrote the letters appearing in this book—correspondence with Austrian military officer and budding poet Franz Xaver Kappus—between 1902 and 1908. They were meant to serve as advice on Kappus’ career and creative life. To anyone in search of some inspiration: career, creative, or otherwise, give this classic a try.

Letters to a Young Poet

A new translation of ten letters penned by Rilke from 1903 to 1908, which encompass his words of advice and encouragement to an aspiring young writer.