Between the Pages of Letters to A Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke III

"Allow your judgements their own silent, undisturbed development, which, like all progress, must come from deep within and cannot be forced or hastened. Everything is gestation and then birthing. To let each impression and each embryo of a feeling come to completion, entirely in itself, in the dark, in the unsayable, the unconscious, beyond the reach of one’s own understanding, and with deep humility and patience to wait for the hour when a new clarity is born: this alone is what it means to live as an artist: in understanding as in creating" 

(Rainer Maria Rilke. Letters to a Young Poet. Trans. Stephen Mitchell. NY: Modern Library, 2001, p.23-4).

There are a lot of oh-yes! things said by Rilke to Kappus in the third letter. Amongst which is the above passage…

But let’s do things a little differently for part III, shall we? How are you? Having a grand time I bet! Oh do say you are having a grand time. Well, that is if you are indeed having a grand time, but if you are not having a grand time I hope you are not unhappy or anything, but if you were unhappy or something, I hope you’re making the best of it. Life is weird no? It’s like you wake up everyday to learn that the one thing you have always been doing is the one thing you are yet to know how to do! So you start thinking of learning to bake bread or cake. But I will tell you how I am. I am a little constipated, actually, too much bread. However, I have concocted this amazing tea that is helping. Let me know if you need the recipe! :D By the way, I am spoiling for a really good exercise; the sort that drains you of every excess energy and leaves you delightfully languid.

Maybe we should have another read of that passage above. But tell me, have you been following this Rilke business I am hosting here? Do you care for it? I know I am going rather slowly with things. But ah, you know how it is. Life! Everyday you wake up to learn you still do not know how it ought to be done. But it is exciting, no? The strangeness of it all; the uncertainty? Quite interesting, yes? Have you made time to read the book, though? I mean the Rilke book, Letters to a Young Poet? I hope so because it is pretty good and not merely for young poets. It is for anyone with a little imagination. And we all have imaginations, don't we? It is only that some are more open with theirs while others prefer to have a choking grip about the throats of theirs. Still, on the matter of reading I recently read that book Rilke recommended in the second letter, Niels Lyhne. It is very good, too. I am debating whether or not to re-read my library copy. You know what? I will just start re-reading it while I ponder whether or not I should re-read it. So if I do decide to re-read it, I will find myself to be doing just so, and if I decide not to re-read it, I will just close the book and match it back to its library shelf. It’s an excellent book by all means and you might enjoy it too if you have not already––no wonder Rilke was so effusive in his praise of it.

And how’s your July going? Oh wait, maybe it is time to read the quote above again? Now did you have any resolutions this year? How are they coming along. My sole resolution has been to learn to love God  and I am not sure how that is going. All I know is I am very confused but I am not  worried. These days when one mentions any interest in God one is treated like a dangerous pest. Oh, did I tell you? I’ve been reading Proust’s In Search of Lost Time, Vol I. I am almost done now. I have been told this is something one can brag about. Would you agree? Are you impressed anyhow? Should I bring it up in future conversations? I started reading it sometime in January or was it December? Anyway, it is almost August so obviously it took a minute to read. Maybe I shouldn’t bring it up in future conversations then. Perhaps I shall finish it before bed tonight. I am very close to finishing––nine pages to be exact.

Yes, Rilke, right. I suppose it is time to re-read the quote again. It is a good quote, yes? Yes, I like it very much too. Oh, but I do really need to go exercise now. I will just leave the passage to you to pull apart and mesh together in your own way and at your own pace. Do enjoy it.


Previous in the series:
Between the Pages of Letters to A Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke II


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