Tuesday, June 3

12x12: Letters to a Young Poet

Letters to a Young Poet
Rainer Maria Rilke

My mom sent me this book when I was in London. I was thinking about becoming an English major and a writer after graduation, so she wanted me to get the best advice possible, apparently.

What I Loved:
  • This was a suuuper short book. I thought it was 60 pages (still super short), but it really only started around page 10, and the text actually ended at page 40.
  • The writing was really, spectacularly beautiful.
  • I loved the writer's perspective on writing, on sexuality, on art, on questioning... basically everything, haha.
  • It totally confirmed that I will never be the kind of writer that the Young Poet is. He's basically out in the woods in the middle of nowhere, by himself, being sad, being alone, and writing beautiful stuff. I think solitude and heavy, deep feelings are probably some kind of formula to greatness, and I'm not meant for solitude or constantly heavy, deep feelings.
  • The Young Poet seems a lot like Justin Vernon/Bon Iver. I will never be the spectacular poet or artist that Bon Iver or The Young Poet are, but that's probably okay.
What I Wasn't Crazy About:
  • It's really hard to get into at first. The language is very complex and heavy, and it can be really hard to understand his style if you aren't used to it. Once I started underlining passages I liked, the reading got infinitely easier.
  • He talks a lot about solitude, which I have no desire to relate to. I don't mind being alone sometimes, but I definitely don't see myself actively seeking solitude for long bouts of time.
Would I Recommend This Book?
  • Absolutely! There's really no excuse NOT to read this since it's so short, and there are definitely moments of greatness in here. Here are some of my favorite quotes:
"And in point of fact, artistic experience really lies so incredibly close to sexual, to its agony and its ecstasy, that both phenomena are actually only different forms of one and the same longing and felicity."
"Have patience with everything that is unsolved in your heart and to try to cherish the questions themselves, liked closed rooms and like books written in a very strange tongue. Do not search now for the answers which cannot be given you because you could not live them. It is a matter of living everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, one distant day live right into the answer."
"Bodily delight is a great boundless experience which is given us, a knowing of the world, the fullness and the plendour of all knowing. Our acceptance of it is not bad; what is bad is that almost all men misuse and squander this experience."
 "In one creator's thought a thousand forgotten nights of love revive gain and fill it full of loftiness and grandeur."
"And perhaps the sexes are more akin than we suppose, and the great renewal of the world will perhaps consist in this, that man and maiden, freed from all false feelings and perversions, will seek each other not as opposites but as brothers and sisters, as neighbors, and will unite as human beings to bear in common, simply, seriously and patiently, the heavy sex that has been laid upon them."
"One day the girl will be here and the woman whose name will no longer signify merely the opposite of masculinity, but something in itself, something which makes us think of no complement or limitation."
"That is fundamentally the only courage which is demanded of us: to be brave in the face of the strangest, most singular and most inexplicable things that can befall us."
"Do not think that the men who seeks to comfort you lives untroubled among the simple and quiet words which sometimes do you good. His life has much hardship and sadness and lags far behind you. If it were otherwise, he could never have found those words."
"All feelings are pure which gather you and lift you up; a feeling is impure which takes hold of only one side of your being and so distorts you."  
 Have you ever read this book? Would you recommend it?

No comments:

Post a Comment