Quotes by Rainer Maria Rilke
Welcome to our collection of quotes (with shareable picture quotes) by Rainer Maria Rilke. We hope you enjoy pondering them and that you will share them widely.
Wikipedia Summary for Rainer Maria Rilke
René Karl Wilhelm Johann Josef Maria Rilke (4 December 1875 – 29 December 1926), better known as Rainer Maria Rilke (German: [ˈʁaɪnɐ maˈʁiːa ˈʁɪlkə]), was a Bohemian-Austrian poet and novelist. He is "widely recognized as one of the most lyrically intense German-language poets". He wrote both verse and highly lyrical prose. Several critics have described Rilke's work as "mystical". His writings include one novel, several collections of poetry and several volumes of correspondence in which he invokes images that focus on the difficulty of communion with the ineffable in an age of disbelief, solitude and anxiety. These themes position him as a transitional figure between traditional and modernist writers.
Rilke travelled extensively throughout Europe (including Russia, Spain, Germany, France and Italy) and, in his later years, settled in Switzerland – settings that were key to the genesis and inspiration for many of his poems. While Rilke is most known for his contributions to German literature, over 400 poems were originally written in French and dedicated to the canton of Valais in Switzerland.
Among English-language readers, his best-known works include the poetry collections Duino Elegies (Duineser Elegien) and Sonnets to Orpheus (Die Sonette an Orpheus), the semi-autobiographical novel The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge (Die Aufzeichnungen des Malte Laurids Brigge), and a collection of ten letters that was published after his death under the title Letters to a Young Poet (Briefe an einen jungen Dichter). In the later 20th century, his work found new audiences through use by New Age theologians and self-help authors and frequent quotations by television programs, books and motion pictures. In the United States, Rilke remains among the more popular, best-selling poets.
If you will stay close to nature, to its simplicity, to the small things hardly noticeable, those things can unexpectedly become great and immeasurable.
The only journey is the journey within.
God... sat down for a moment when the dog was finished in order to watch it... and to know that it was good, that nothing was lacking, that it could not have been made better.
Have patience with everything that remains unsolved in your heart.
...live in the question.
Have patience with everything that remains unsolved in your heart. Try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books written in a foreign language. Do not now look for the answers. They cannot now be given to you because you could not live them. It is a question of experiencing everything. At present you need to live the question. Perhaps you will gradually, without even noticing it, find yourself experiencing the answer, some distant day.
But your solitude will be a support and a home for you, even in the midst of very unfamiliar circumstances, and from it you will find all your paths.
Find out the reason that commands you to write; see whether it has spread its roots into the very depth of your heart; confess to yourself you would have to die if you were forbidden to write.
Make your ego porous. Will is of little importance, complaining is nothing, fame is nothing. Openness, patience, receptivity, solitude is everything.
I want to be with those who know secret things or else alone.
The great renewal of the world will perhaps consist in this, that man and maid, freed of all false feelings and reluctances, will seek each other not as opposites, but as brother and sister, as neighbors, and will come together as human beings.
We are all falling. This hand's falling,too -- all have this falling-sickness none withstands. And yet there's one whose gently-holding hands this universal falling can't fall through.
We're still reminded-: sometimes by a rain, but we can no longer say what it means; life was never again so filled with meeting, with reunion and with passing on.
If the Angel deigns to appear, it will be because you have convinced him, not by tears but by your humble resolve to be always beginning -- to be a Beginner!
One of the most difficult tests for the creator: he must always remain unconscious, unaware of his best virtues, if he doesn't want to rob them of their candor and innocence.
Yet, no matter how deeply I go down into myself, my God is dark, and like a webbing made of a hundred roots that drink in silence.
Those tasks that have been entrusted to us are difficult; almost everything serious is difficult; and everything is serious.
And I circle ten thousand years long; And I still don't know if I'm a falcon, a storm, or an unfinished song.
That is longing: To dwell in the flux of things,
To have no home in the present.
And these are wishes: gentle dialogues
Of the poor hours with eternity.
It seems to me that the only way one can be helpful is to extend one's hand to someone else involuntarily, and without ever knowing how useful this will be.
Perhaps everything that frightens us is, in its deepest essence, something helpless that wants our love.
Surely all art is the result of one's having been in danger, of having gone through an experience all the way to the end, where no one can go any further.
This is in the end the only kind of courage that is required of us: the courage to face the strangest, most unusual, most inexplicable experiences that can meet us.
Whoever you are, go out into the evening,
leaving your room, of which you know every bit;
your house is the last before the infinite,
whoever you are.
Whoever you are: in the evening step out
of your room, where you know everything;
yours is the last house before the far-off:
whoever you are.
With your eyes, which in their weariness
barely free themselves from the worn-out threshold,
you lift very slowly one black tree
and place it against the sky: slender, alone.
And you have made the world. And it is huge
and like a word which grows ripe in silence.
And as your will seizes on its meaning,
tenderly your eyes let it go.
It is part of the nature of every definitive love that sooner or later it can reach the beloved only in infinity.
That is the principal thing-not to remain with the dream, with the intention, with the being-in-the-mood, but always forcibly to convert it all into things.
The artist's experience lies so unbelievably close to the sexual, to its pain and its pleasure, that the two phenomena are really just different forms of one and the same longing and bliss.
As the arrow endures the string, and in the gathering momentum becomes more than itself. Because to stay is to be nowhere.
One must never despair upon losing something, whether it's an individual or an experience of joy or happiness; everything returns even more magnificently.
The creator must be a world for himself and must find everything in himself and in Nature, to whom his whole life is devoted.
But to be what I am, to live what I was meant to live, to want to sound like no one else, to yield the blossoms dictated to my heart: this is what I want -- and this surely cannot be arrogance. (Letters on Life).
It seems to me that almost all our sadnesses are moments of tension, which we feel as paralysis because we no longer hear our astonished emotions living.
Ultimately nobody can help anyone else in life; one has this recurring experience in every conflict and confusion: that one is alone. (Letters on Life).
How can I keep my soul in me, so that it doesn't touch your soul? How can I raise it high enough, past you, to other things?
Basically, if it is good, one can't live to see it recognized: otherwise it's just half good and not reckless enough.
What an unilateral life, when from the material of a renunciation, we must fashion something we love.
Religion is something infinitely simple, ingenuous. It is not knowledge, not content of feeling... it is not duty and not renunciation, it is not restriction: but in the infinite extent of the universe it is a direction of the heart.
But learning-time is always a long, secluded time, and so loving, for a long while ahead and far on into life, is-solitude, intensified and deepened loneness for him who loves.
I am like a child who awakes At the light, so safe and secureFree from night's fears when dawn breaks, In Thee I am ever secure.
He was a worker whose only desire was to penetrate with all his forces into the humble and difficult significance of his tools. Therein lay a certain renunciation of Life, but in just this renunciation lay his triumph, for Life entered into his work.
No one can advise or help you -- no one. There is only one thing you should do. Go into yourself. Search for the reason that bids you write, find out wether it spreading out its root in the deepest places of your heart...Delve into yourself for a deep answer.
Here is the time for the sayable, here
is its home.
Speak and attest. More than ever
the things we can live with are falling
and ousting them, filling their place,
a will with no image.
Will beneath crusts which readily crack
whenever the act inside swells and
seeks new borders.
Fame, that public destruction of one in process of becoming, into whose building-ground the mob breaks, displacing his stones.
I believe that that love remains strong and intense in your memory because it was your first deep aloneness and the first inner work that you did on your life.
For beauty is nothing but the beginning of terror.
For beauty is nothing but the beginning of terror
which we are barely able to endure, and it amazes us so,
because it serenely disdains to destroy us.
Every angel is terrible.
For sometime now I have believed that it is our own force, all our own force that is still too great for us. It is true that we do not know it; but is it not just that which is most our own of which we know the least?
Oh longing for places that were not Cherished enough in that fleeting hour How I long to make good from afar The forgotten gesture, the additional act.
In later years it would sometimes happen that I'd wake up at night and see the stars so real in the sky and so meaningful in their course, and couldn't understand how anyone could bring themselves to miss so much of the world.
Perhaps somewhere, someplace deep inside your being, you have undergone important changes while you were sad.
It's possible, I'm moving through the hard veins of heavy mountains, like an arc, alone; I'm so deep inside, I see no end in sight, and no distance: everything is getting near and everything near is turning to stone.
Beauty is nothing but the beginning of terror, which we are still just able to endure, and we are so awed because it serenely disdains to annihilate us.
You who let yourselves feel: enter the breathing
That is more than your own.
Let it brush your cheeks
As it divides and rejoins behind you.
The trees you planted in childhood have grown
Too heavy. You cannot bring them along.
Give yourselves to the air, to what you cannot hold.
Again and again in history some people wake up. They have no ground in the crowd and move to broader deeper laws. They carry strange customs with them and demand room for bold and audacious action. The future speaks ruthlessly through them. They change the world.
Somewhere there is an ancient enmity between our daily life and the great work. Help me in saying it, to understand it.
Life and death: they are one, at core entwined. Who understands himself from his own strain presses himself into a drop of wine and throws himself into the purest flame.
Perhaps it requires of you precisely this existential anxiety in order to begin. Precisely these days of transition are perhaps the period when everything in you is working.
Be ahead of all parting, as though it already were behind you.
Be ahead of all parting, as if it had already happened,
like winter, which even now is passing.
For beneath the winter is a winter so endless
that to survive it at all is a triumph of the heart.
Be forever dead in Eurydice, and climb back singing.
Climb praising as you return to connection.
Here among the disappearing, in the realm of the transient,
be a ringing glass that shatters as it rings.
Be. And, at the same time, know what it is not to be.
The emptiness inside you allows you to vibrate
in full resonance with your world. Use it for once.
To all that has run its course, and to the vast unsayable
numbers of beings abounding in Nature,
add yourself gladly, and cancel the cost.
A birdsong can even, for a moment, make the whole world into a sky within us, because we feel that the bird does not distinguish between its heart and the world's.
Sometime we will have to stop overevaluating the word. We shall learn to realize that it is only one of the many bridges that connect the island of our soul with the great continent of common life... the broadest, perhaps, but in no way the most refined.
Just as the creative artist is not allowed to choose, neither is he permitted to turn his back on anything: a single refusal, and he is cast out of the state of grace and becomes sinful all the way through.
Leave to your opinions their own quiet undisturbed development, which, like all progress, must come from deep within and cannot be pressed or hurried by anything.
Why should you want to give up a child's wise not-understanding in exchange for defensiveness and scorn, since not-understanding is, after all, a way of being alone, whereas defensiveness and scorn are a participation in precisely what, by these means, you want to separate yourself from.
Dig deep into your heart, where the answer spreads its roots in your being, and ask yourself solemnly, Must I write?
Whoever has no house now, will never have one. Whoever is alone will stay alone, will sit, read, write long letters through the evening, and wander on the boulevards, up and down, restlessly, while dry leaves are blowing.
A kind of memory that tells us that what we're now striving for was once nearer and truer and attached to us with infinite tenderness. Here all is distance, there it was breath. After the first home the second one seems draughty and strangely sexed.
We wasters of sorrows! How we stare away into sad endurance beyond them, trying to foresee their end! Whereas they are nothing else than our winter foliage, our sombre evergreen, one of the seasons of our interior year.
This is what the things can teach us: to fall, patiently to trust our heaviness. Even a bird has to do that before he can fly.
I prayed to rediscover my childhood, and it has come back, and I feel that it is just as difficult as it used to be, and that growing older has served no purpose at all.
I think of you often, dear, and with such concentrated wishes that it really must help you in some way.
As people used to be wrong about the motion of the sun, so they are still wrong about the motion of the future. The future stands still, it is we who move in infinite space.
And you suddenly know: It was here! You pull yourself together, and there stands an irrevocable year of anguish and vision and prayer.
You, darkness, of whom I am born- I love you more than the flame that limits the world to the circle it illumines and excludes the rest.
What keeps you from... living your life as a painful and lovely day in the history of a great pregnancy?
Yet everything that touches us, me and you, takes us together like a violin's bow, which draws one voice out of two separate strings.
To be in circumstances that are working upon us, that from time to time place us in front of great natural Things -- that is all we need.
I love the dark hours of my being. My mind deepens into them. There I can find, as in old letters, the days of my life, already lived, and held like a legend, and understood.
To be loved means to be consumed. To love is to give light with inexhaustible oil. To be loved is to pass away, to love is to endure.
Perhaps then, some day far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.
Animals see the unobstructed world with their whole eyes. But our eyes, turned back upon themselves, encircle and seek to snare the world, setting traps for freedom.
And these things
that keep alive on departure know that
you praise them; transient,
they look to us, the most transient,
to be their rescue.
They want us to change them completely,
in our invisible hearts,
into -- O endlessly -- us! Whoever,
finally, we may be.
Poetic power is great, strong as a primitive instinct; it has its own unyielding rhythms in itself and breaks out as out of mountains.
We are the bees of the invisible. We madly gather the honey of the visible to store it in the great golden hive of the invisible.
Someday there will be girls and women whose name will no longer mean the mere opposite of the male, but something in itself, something that makes one think not of any complement and limit, but only life and reality: the female human being.
It is clear that we must embrace struggle. Every living thing conforms to it. Everything in nature grows and struggles in its own way, establishing its own identity, insisting on it at all cost, against all resistance.
She who reconciles the ill-matched threads Of her life, and weaves them gratefully Into a single cloth -- It's she who drives the loudmouths from the hall And clears it for a different celebration.
Only those are in the right who keep an open door for both good and ill, so that each may come but also leave according to its needs.
Every intensification is good, if it is in your entire blood, if it isn't intoxication or muddiness, but joy which you can see into, clear to the bottom.
A merging of two people is an impossibility, and where it seems to exist, it is a hemming-in, a mutual consent that robs one party or both parties of their fullest freedom and development.
Take your well-disciplined strengths, stretch them between the two great opposing poles, because inside human beings is where God learns.
But you, divine poet, you sang on till the end as the swarm of rejected maenads attacked you, shrieking, you overpowered their noise with harmony, and from pure destruction arose your transfigured song.
If no one else, the dying must notice how unreal, how full of pretense, is all that we accomplish here, where nothing is allowed to be itself.
You must think that something is happening upon you, that life has not forgotten you, that it holds you in its hand; it will not let you fall.
Music: breathing of statues. Perhaps: silence of paintings. You language where all language ends. You time standing vertically on the motion of mortal hearts.
Harshness vanished. A sudden softness has replaced the meadows' wintry grey. Little rivulets of water changed their singing accents. Tendernesses, hesitantly, reach toward the earth from space, and country lanes are showing these unexpected subtle risings that find expression in the empty trees.
You must give birth to your images. They are the future waiting to be born. Fear not the strangeness you feel. The future must enter you long before it happens. Just wait for the birth, for the the hour of the new clarity.
Be out of sync with your times for just one day, and you will see how much eternity you contain within you.
Be out of sync with your times for just one day, and you will see how much eternity you contain within you. (Letters on Life).
In one creative thought a thousand forgotten nights of love revive, filling it with sublimity and exaltation.
We must accept our reality as vastly as we possibly can; everything, even the unprecedented, must be possible within it.
What goes on in your innermost being is worth all your love, this is what you must work on however you can and not waste too much time and too much energy on clarifying your attitude to other people.
Losing too is still ours; and even forgetting still has a shape in the kingdom of transformation. When something's let go of, it circles; and though we are rarely the center of the circle, it draws around us its unbroken, marvelous curve.
The deep parts of my life pour onward, as if the river shores were opening out. I feel closer to what language can't reach. With my senses, as with birds, I climb into the windy heaven... in the ponds broken off from the sky.
It is so often on the name of a misdeed that a life goes to pieces, not the nameless and personal action itself, which was perhaps a perfectly definite necessity of that life and would have been absorbed by it without effort.
A billion stars go spinning through the night, glittering above your head, But in you is the presence that will be when all the stars are dead.
Look, I am living. On what? Neither
childhood nor future
lessens ... Superabundant existence
wells in my heart.
Huge lemons, cut in slices, would sink like setting suns into the dusky sea, softly illuminating it with their radiating membranes, and its clear, smooth surface aquiver from the rising bitter essence.
Keep growing quietly and seriously throughout your whole development; you cannot disturb it more rudely than by looking outward and expecting from outside replies to questions that only your inmost feeling in your most hushed hour can perhaps answer.
To make myself understood and to diminish the distance between us, I called out: I am an evening cloud too. They stopped still, evidently taking a good look at me. Then they stretched towards me their fine, transparent, rosy wings. That is how evening clouds greet each other. They had recognized me.
Painting is something that takes place among the colors.
Painting is something that takes place among the colors, and one has to leave them alone completely, so that they can settle the matter among themselves. Their intercourse: this is the whole of painting. Whoever meddles, arranges, injects his human deliberation, his wit, his advocacy, his intellectual agility in any way, is already disturbing and clouding their activity.
The point of marriage is not to create a quick commonality by tearing down all boundaries on the contrary, a good marriage is one in which each partner appoints the other to be the guardian of his solitude, and thus they show each other the greatest possible trust.
Who has turned us around like this, so that
whatever we do, we find ourselves in the attitude
of someone going away? Just as that person
on the last hill, which shows him his whole valley
one last time, turns, stops, lingers -
so we live, forever taking our leave.
Sex is difficult; yes. But those tasks that have been entrusted to us are difficult; almost everything serious is difficult; and everything is serious.
Children are still the way you were as a child, sad and happy in just the same way -- and if you think of your childhood, you once again live among them, among the solitary children.
Understand, I'll slip quietly away from the noisy crowd when I see the pale stars rising, blooming, over the oaks. I'll pursue solitary pathways through the pale twilit meadows with only this one dream: You come too.
No, no, one can imagine nothing in the world, not the least thing. Everything is composed of so many isolated details that are not to be foreseen. In one's imagining one passes over them and hasty as one is doesn't notice that they are missing. But realities are slow and indescribably detailed.
That is why young people, who are beginners in everything, are not yet capable of love: it is something they must learn. With their whole being, with all their forces, gathered around their solitary, anxious, upward-beating heart, they must learn to love.
When anxious, uneasy and bad thoughts come, I go to the sea, and the sea drowns them out with its great wide sounds, cleanses me with its noise, and imposes a rhythm upon everthing in me that is bewildered and confused.
Think... of the world you carry within you.
Think... of the world you carry within you, and call this thinking whatever you want to: a remembering of your own childhood or a yearning toward a future of your own -- only be attentive to what is arising within you, and place that above everything you perceive around you. What is happening in your innermost self is worthy of your entire love; somehow you must find a way to work at it.
It is quite rare to encounter a truly creative and productive person who resides in his own stillness or simply in the midst of his melody, close to the honest beating of his heart! (Letters on Life).
Don't be too quick to draw conclusions from what happens to you; simply let it happen. Otherwise it will be too easy for you to look with blame... at your past, which naturally has a share with everything that now meets you.
Do not assume that he who seeks to comfort you now, lives untroubled among the simple and quiet words that sometimes do you good. His life may also have much sadness and difficulty, that remains far beyond yours. Were it otherwise, he would never have been able to find these words.
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