Skip to content

Posts tagged ‘Letters to a Young Poet’

More writing insight from Rainer Maria Rilke: Mine the art of your life

What is your approach and philosophy about writing and the writing life?

Austrian poet and novelist Rainer Maria Rilke offered advice and ideas about writing in a series of letters to a young student, Franz Kappus, who later published them in a collection called, Letters to a Young Poet. You can read more about Rilke’s philosophy in my last blog post, Inspired by Rilke: What you should write about and why.

In his advice about what to write about, Rilke urged Kappus to be cautious of generalities and examine the themes present in everyday life.

“Write about your sorrows, your wishes, your passing thoughts, your belief in anything beautiful. Describe all that with fervent, quiet, and humble sincerity. In order to express yourself, use things in your surroundings, the scenes of your dreams, and the subjects of your memory.” Read more

Inspired by Rilke: What you should write about and why

If you ever feel stalled with your writing, you might find inspiration in Rainer Maria Rilke’s Letters to a Young Poet.

Rilke, a Bohemian-Austrian poet and novelist, is known as one of the most significant writers in the German language.

He wrote the letters to 19-year-old student Franz Kappus, who had sent Rilke poems to review. Rilke declined to specifically review the poems, but his letters offer a meditation on creativity and the writing life. After Rilke died, Kappus published the classic collection of letters, including the first one you can view at

His letters have helped many writers consider the place writing has in their lives.

Rilke responded to Kappus’s concerns about rejection, telling him he was looking outward and encouraged Kappus to look within for answers and test his desire to write.

“Does it stretch out its roots in the deepest place of your heart? Can you avow that you would die if you were forbidden to write? Above all, in the most silent hour of your night, ask yourself this: Must I write? Dig deep into yourself for a true answer. And if it should ring its assent, if you can confidently meet this serious question with a simple, “I must,” then build your life upon it. It has become your necessity. Your life, in even the most mundane and least significant hour, must become a sign, a testimony to this urge. Read more