Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Rainer Maria Rilke, full name René Karl Wilhelm Johann Josef Maria Rilke

Bohemian-Austrian Poet

"A good marriage is that in which each appoints the other guardian of his solitude. Once the realization is accepted that even between the closest human beings infinite distances continue to exist, a wonderful living side by side can grow up, if they succeed in loving the distance between them which makes it possible for each to see the other whole and against a wide sky."

"All spaciousness, as in life - also the inner - is in the last analysis a question of proportion."

"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."

"Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live your questions now, and perhaps even without knowing it, you will live along some distant day into your answers."

"For one human being to love another: that is perhaps the most difficult of all our tasks, the ultimate, the last test and proof, the work for which all other work is but preparation."

"Life is very singularly made to surprise us (where it does not utterly appall us)."

"Make your ego porous. Will is of little importance, complaining is nothing, fame is nothing. Openness, patience, receptivity, solitude is everything."

"If your everyday life seems poor to you, do not accuse it; accuse yourself, tell yourself you are not poet enough to summon up its riches; since for the Creator there is no poverty and no poor or unimportant place."

"Once the realization is accepted that even between the closest human beings infinite distances continue to exist, a wonderful living side by side can grow up, if they succeed in loving the distance between them which makes it possible for each to see the other whole against the sky."

"Nothing in the world can one imagine beforehand, not the least thing. Everything is made up of so many unique particulars that cannot be foreseen."

"Most events are inexpressible, taking place in a realm which no word has ever entered, and more inexpressible than all else are works of art, mysterious existences, the life of which, while ours passes away, endures."

"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."

"Religion is something infinitely simple, ingenuous... In the infinite extent of the universe, it is a direction of the heart."

"Everything terrifying is, in its deepest being, something helpless that wants our help."

"I hold this to be the highest task for a bond between two people: that each protects the solitude of the other."

"Live your questions now, and perhaps even without knowing it, you will live along some distant day into your answers."

"Works of art are of an infinite solitariness, and nothing is less likely to bring us near to them than criticism. Only love can apprehend and hold them, and be just toward them."

"We need in love to practice only this: letting each other go, for holding on comes easily; we do not need to learn it."

"All this hurrying soon will be over. Only when we tarry do we touch the holy."

"A billion stars go spinning through the night, blazing high above your head. But in you is the presence that will be, when all the stars are dead."

"A complete sharing between two people is an impossibility and whenever it seems, nevertheless, to exist, it is a narrowing, a mutual agreement which robs either one member or both of his fullest freedom and development. But, once the realization is accepted that, even between the closest human beings, infinite distances continue to exist, a wonderful living side by side can grow up, if they succeed in loving the distance between them which makes it possible for each to see the other whole and against a wide sky!"

"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."

"A man has to live with himself, and he should see to it that he always has good company."

"A person isn't who they are during the last conversation you had with them, they're who they've been throughout your whole relationship."

"A work of art is good if it has arisen out of necessity. That is the only way one can judge it."

"Across the moment, aeons speak with aeons. More than we experienced has gone by."

"Again and again, however we know the landscape of love and the little churchyard there, with its sorrowing names, and the frighteningly silent abyss into which the others fall: again and again the two of us walk out together under the ancient trees, lie down again and again among the flowers, face to face with the sky. "

"Ah, not to be cut off, not through the slightest partition shut out from the law of the stars. The inner -- what is it? if not the intensified sky, hurled through with birds and deep with the winds of homecoming. "

"All emotions are pure which gather you and lift you up; that emotion is impure which seizes only one side of your being and so distorts you."

"All feelings that concentrate you and lift you up are pure; only that feeling is impure which grasps just one side of your being and thus distorts you. Everything you can think of as you face your childhood, is good. Everything that makes more of you than you have ever been, even in your best hours, is right. 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."

"All that speed is not more than the past because only what it takes to start."

"All the soarings of my mind begin in my blood."

"Allow your judgments a silent, undisturbed development, which, like all progress, must come from deep within and cannot be forced or hastened."

"Always the wish that you may find patience enough in yourself to endure, and simplicity enough to believe; that you may acquire more and more confidence in that which is difficult, and in your solitude among others."

"Always trust yourself and your own feelings, as opposed to arguments and discussions. If it turns out that you are wrong, then the natural growth of your inner life will eventually guide you to other insights."

"And if out of this turning-within, out of this immersion in your own world, poems come, then you will not think of asking anyone whether they are good or not. Nor will you try to interest magazines in these works: for you will see them as your dear natural possession, a piece of your life, a voice from it. A work of art is good if it has arisen out of necessity. That is the only way one can judge it."

"And isn't the whole world yours? For how often you set it on fire with your love and saw it blaze and burn up and secretly replaced it with another world while everyone slept. You felt in such complete harmony with God, when every morning you asked him for a new earth, so that all the ones he had made could have their turn. You thought it would be shabby to save them and repair them; you used them up and held out your hands, again and again, for more world. For your love was equal to everything."

"And many a day's hours were like that. As if someone fashioned my likeness somewhere in order to torment it slowly with needles. I felt each sharp prick of his playing, and it was: as if a rain fell on me in which all things change."

"And my great grief cry will happen to you."

"And now we welcome the new year, full of things that have never been"

"And so each of them loses himself to the other for the sake of the other person, and loses the other. And loses the vast possibilities ... in exchange for an unfruitful confusion, out of which nothing more can come, nothing but a bit of disgust, disappointment and poverty."

" And still it is not enough to have memories. One must be able to forget them when they are many, and one must have the great patience to wait until they come again. For it is not yet the memories themselves. Not until they have turned to blood within us, to glance, to gesture, nameless and no longer to be distinguished from ourselves - not until then can it happen that in a most rare hour the first word of a verse arises in their midst and goes forth from them."

"And then your great transforming will happen to me"

"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."

"And those who come together in the night and are entwined in rocking delight do an earnest work and gather sweetnesses, gather depth and strength for the song of some coming poet, who will arise to speak of ecstasies beyond telling."

"And we, spectators always, everywhere, looking at, never out of, everything! It fills us. We arrange it. It collapses. We re-arrange it, and collapse ourselves. Who's turned us round like this, so that we always, do what we may, retain the attitude of someone who's departing? Just as he, on the last hill, that shows him all his valley for the last time, will turn and stop and linger, we live our lives, forever taking leave."

"And what can happen then? What can life do with this heap of half broken things that they would like to call their happiness, and their futures?"

"And when suddenly the god stopped her and, with anguish in his cry, uttered the words: "

"And when you realize that their activities are shabby, that their vocations are petrified and no longer connected with life, why not then continue to look upon it all as a child would, as if you were looking at something unfamiliar, out of the depths of your own solitude, which is itself work and status and vocation? Why should you want to give up a child"

"And you should not let yourself be confused in your solitude by the fact that there is something in you that wants to move out of it."