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.
Letter Seven (14 May 1904)
Der Abend wechselt langsam die Gewänder, die ihm ein Rand von alten Bäumen hält.Rainer Maria Rilke
Just as language has no longer anything in common with the thing it names, so the movements of most of the people who live in cities have lost their connexion with the earth; they hang, as it were, in the air, hover in all directions, and find no place where they can settle.Rainer Maria Rilke
Du im Voraus verlorne Geliebte, Nimmergekommene, nicht weiß ich, welche Töne dir lieb sind. Nicht mehr versuch ich, dich, wenn das Kommende wogt, zu erkennen.Rainer Maria Rilke
Schon ist mein Blick am Hügel, dem besonnten, dem Wege, den ich kaum begann, voran. So fasst uns das, was wir nicht fassen konnten, voller Erscheinung, aus der Ferne an und wandelt uns, auch wenn wirs nicht erreichen, in jenes, das wir, kaum es ahnend, sind; ein Zeichen weht, erwidernd unserm Zeichen... Wir aber spüren nur den Gegenwind.Rainer Maria Rilke
and it changes us, even when we do not reach it,
into something that, hardly sensing it, we already are;
a sign appears, echoing our own sign...
But what we sense is the falling winds.
and changes us, even if we do not reach it,
into something else, which, hardly sensing it, we already are;
a gesture waves us on, answering our own wave . . .
but what we feel is the wind in our faces.
Rose, oh reiner Widerspruch, Lust, Niemandes Schlaf zu sein unter soviel Lidern.Rainer Maria Rilke
The work of the eyes is done. Go now and do the heart-work on the images imprisoned within you.Rainer Maria Rilke
He was a poet and hated the approximate.Rainer Maria Rilke
Ideally a painter (and, generally, an artist) should not become conscious of his insights: without taking the detour through his reflective processes, and incomprehensibly to himself, all his progress should enter so swiftly into the work that he is unable to recognise them in the moment of transition. Alas, the artist who waits in ambush there, watching, detaining them, will find them transformed like the beautiful gold in the fairy tale which cannot remain gold because some small detail was not taken care of.Rainer Maria Rilke
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.Rainer Maria Rilke
He [Cézanne] reproduced himself with so much humble objectivity, with the unquestioning, matter of fact interest of a dog who sees himself in a mirror and thinks: there’s another dog.Rainer Maria Rilke
Not since Moses has anyone seen a mountain so greatly.Rainer Maria Rilke
What is required of us is that we love the difficult and learn to deal with it. In the difficult are the friendly forces, the hands that work on us. Right in the difficult we must have our joys, our happiness, our dreams: there against the depth of this background, they stand out, there for the first time we see how beautiful they are.Rainer Maria Rilke
Diese Mühsal, durch noch Ungetanes schwer und wie gebunden hinzugehen, gleicht dem ungeschaffnen Gang des Schwanes. Und das Sterben, dieses Nichtmehrfassen jenes Grunds, auf dem wir täglich stehen, seinem ängstlichen Sich-Niederlassen : in die Wasser, die ihn sanft empfangen und die sich, wie glücklich und vergangen, unter ihm zurückziehn, Flut um Flut; während er unendlich still und sicher immer mündiger und königlicher und gelassener zu ziehn geruht.Rainer Maria Rilke
And dying, this slipping away from
the ground upon which we stand every day,
is his anxious letting himself fall—:
into the waters, which receive him gladly
and which, as if happily already gone by,
draw back under him, wave after wave;
while the swan, infinitely calm and self-assured,
opener and more magnificent
and more serene, allows himself to be drawn on.
Die nächste Flut verwischt den Weg im Watt, und alles wird auf allen Seiten gleich; die kleine Insel draußen aber hat die Augen zu; verwirrend kreist der Deich um ihre Wohner, die in einem Schlaf geboren werden, drin sie viele Welten verwechseln schweigend, denn sie reden selten, und jeder Satz ist wie ein EpitaphRainer Maria Rilke
around its inhabitants who were born
into a sleep in which many worlds
are silently confused, for they rarely speak,
and every phrase is like an epitaph.
Wer, wenn ich schriee, hörte mich denn aus der Engel Ordnungen? und gesetzt selbst, es nähme einer mich plötzlich ans Herz: ich verginge von seinem stärkeren Dasein. Denn das Schöne ist nichts als des Schrecklichen Anfang, den wir noch grade ertragen, und wir bewundern es so, weil es gelassen verschmäht, uns zu zerstören. Ein jeder Engel ist schrecklich.Rainer Maria Rilke
Schließlich brauchen sie uns nicht mehr, die Früheentrückten, man entwöhnt sich des Irdischen sanft, wie man den Brüsten milde der Mutter entwächst. Aber wir, die so große Geheimnisse brauchen, denen aus Trauer so oft seliger Fortschritt entspringt –: könnten wir sein ohne sie?Rainer Maria Rilke
Liebende ... [w]enn ihr einer dem andern euch an den Mund hebt und ansetzt –: Getränk an Getränk: o wie entgeht dann der Trinkende seltsam der Handlung.Rainer Maria Rilke
They more adeptly bend the willow's branches who have experience of the willow's roots.Rainer Maria Rilke
Irony: Do not let yourself be governed by it, especially not in unproductive moments. In productive ones try to make use of it as one more means of seizing life.Rainer Maria Rilke
No experience has been too unimportant, and the smallest event unfolds like a fate, and fate itself is like a wonderful, wide fabric in which every thread is guided by an infinitely tender hand and laid alongside another thread and is held and supported by a hundred others.Rainer Maria Rilke
Read as little as possible of literary criticism - such things are either partisan opinions, which have become petrified and meaningless, hardened and empty of life, or else they are just clever word-games, in which one view wins today, and tomorrow the opposite view. Works of art are of an infinite solitude, and no means of approach is so useless as criticism.Rainer Maria Rilke
If you trust in Nature, in the small Things that hardly anyone sees and that can so suddenly become huge, immeasurable; if you have this love for what is humble and try very simply, as someone who serves, to win the confidence of what seems poor: then everything will become easier for you, more coherent and somehow more reconciling, not in your conscious mind perhaps, which stays behind, astonished, but in your innermost awareness, awakeness, and knowledge.Rainer Maria Rilke
Sex is difficult; yes. But those tasks that have been entrusted to us are difficult; almost everything serious is difficult; and everything is serious. If you just recognize this and manage, out of yourself, out of your own talent and nature, out of your own experience and childhood and strength, to achieve a wholly individual relation to sex (one that is not influenced by convention and custom), then you will no longer have to be afraid of losing yourself and becoming unworthy of your dearest possession.Rainer Maria Rilke
Physical pleasure is a sensual experience no different from pure seeing or the pure sensation with which a fine fruit fills the tongue; it is a great unending experience, which is given us, a knowing of the world, the fullness and the glory of all knowing. And not our acceptance of it is bad; the bad thing is that most people misuse and squander this experience and apply it as a stimulant at the tired spots of their lives and as distraction instead of a rallying toward exalted moments.Rainer Maria Rilke
Love is at first not anything that means merging, giving over and uniting with another (for what would a union be of something unclarified and unfinished, still subordinate?), it is a high inducement to the individual to ripen, to become world, to become world for himself for another's sake. It is a great exacting claim upon him, something that chooses him out and calls him to vast things.Rainer Maria Rilke
The demands which the difficult work of love makes upon our development are more than life-size, and as beginners we are not up to them. But if we nevertheless hold out and take this love upon us as burden and apprenticeship, instead of losing ourselves in all the light and frivolous play, behind which people have hidden from the most earnest earnestness of their existence then a little progress and alleviation will perhaps be perceptible to those who come long after us; that would be much.Rainer Maria Rilke
Young people -it is obvious -cannot achieve such a relationship, but they can, if they understand their life properly, grow up slowly to such happiness and prepare themselves for it. They must not forget, when they love, that they are beginners, bunglers of life, apprentices in love- must learn love, and that like all learning wants peace, patience, and composure.Rainer Maria Rilke
Art too is just a way of living, and however one lives, one can, without knowing, prepare for it; in everything real one is closer to it, more its neighbor, than in the unreal half-artistic professions, which, while they pretend to be close to art, in practice deny and attack the existence of all art - as, for example, all of journalism does and almost all criticism and three quarters of what is called (and wants to be called) literature.Rainer Maria Rilke