Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

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

Bohemian-Austrian Poet

"And you suddenly know: It was here! You pull yourself together, and there stands an irrevocable year of anguish and vision and prayer."

"And your doubt can become a good quality if you train it. It must become knowing, it must become criticism. Ask it, whenever it wants to spoil something for you, why something is ugly, demand proofs from it, test it, and you will find it perhaps bewildered and embarrased, perhaps also protesting. But don't give in, insist on arguments, and act in this way, attentive and persistent, every single time, and the day will come when, instead of being a destroyer, it will become one of your best workers--perhaps the most intelligent of all the ones that are building your life."

"Angel: If there were a place that we didn't know of, and there, on some unsayable carpet, lovers displayed what they never could bring to mastery here "

"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."

"As bees gather honey, so we collect what is sweetest out of all things and build Him. Even with the trivial, with the insignificant (as long as it is done out of love) we begin, with work and with the repose that comes afterward, with a silence or with a small solitary joy, with everything that we do alone, without anyone to join or help us, we start Him whom we will not live to see, just as our ancestors could not live to see us. And yet they, who passed away long ago, still exist in us, as predisposition, as burden upon our fate, as murmuring blood, and as gesture that rises up from the depths of time. Is there anything that can deprive you of the hope that in this way you will someday exist in Him, who is the farthest, the outermost limit?"

"As if no one had ever tried before, try to say what you see and feel and love and lose."

"Ask yourself in the most silent hour of your night: must I write [create]? Dig into yourself for a deep answer."

"At no other time (than autumn) does the earth let itself be inhaled in one smell, the ripe earth; in a smell that is in no way inferior to the smell of the sea, bitter where it borders on taste, and more honeysweet where you feel it touching the first sounds. Containing depth within itself, darkness, something of the grave almost."

"At the bottom no one in life can help anyone else in life; this one experiences over and over in every conflict and every perplexity: that one is alone. That isn't as bad as it may first appear; and again it is the best thing in life that each should have everything in himself; his fate, his future, his whole expanse and world."

"Avoid providing material for the drama that is always stretched tight between parents and children; it uses up much of the children"

"Be ahead of all parting, as though it already were behind you, like the winter that has just gone by. For among these winters there is one so endlessly winter that only by wintering through it all will your heart survive. Be forever dead in Eurydice-more gladly arise into the seamless life proclaimed in your song. Here, in the realm of decline, among momentary days, be the crystal cup that shattered even as it rang. Be-and yet know the great void where all things begin, the infinite source of your own most intense vibration, so that, this once, you may give it your perfect assent. To all that is used-up, and to all the muffled and dumb creatures in the world's full reserve, the unsayable sums, joyfully add yourself, and cancel the count."

"Be of good courage all is before you, and time passed in the difficult is never lost...What is required of us is that we live the difficult and learn to deal with it. In the difficult are the friendly forces, the hands that work on us."

"Beauty is nothing but the beginning of terror which we are barely able to endure and are awed because it serenely disdains to annihilate us. Each single angel is terrifying."

"Beauty is only the start of bearable terror."

"Being an artist means not numbering or counting, but ripening like a tree, which doesn't force its sap, standing confidently in storms, not afraid that summer may not come."

"Being an artist means, not reckoning and counting, but ripening like the tree which does not force its sap and stands confident in the storms of spring without the fear that after them may come no summer. It does come. But it comes only to the patient, who are there as though eternity lay before them, so unconcernedly still and wide. I learn it daily, learn it with pain to which I am grateful: patience is everything!"

"Being dead filled her beyond fulfillment. Like a fruit suffused with its own mystery and sweetness, she was filled with her vast death, which was so new, she could not understand that it had happened."

"Being in therapy is great. I spend an hour just talking about myself. It's kinda like being the guy on a date."

"Believe in a love that is being stored up for you like an inheritance, and have faith that in this love there is a strength and a blessing so large that you can travel as far as you wish without having to step outside it."

"Believe that with your feelings and your work you are taking part in the greatest; the more strongly you cultivate this belief, the more will reality and the world go forth from it."

"Bodily delight is a sensory experience, not any different from pure looking or the pure feeling with which a beautiful fruit fills the tongue; it is a great, an infinite learning that is given to us, a knowledge of the world, the fullness and the splendor of all knowledge...the individual...can remember that all beauty in animals and plants is a silent, enduring form of love and yearning, and he can see the animal, as he sees plants, patiently and willingly uniting and multiplying and growing, not out of physical pleasure, not out of physical pain, but bowing to necessities that are greater than pleasure and pain, and more powerful than will and withstanding. If only human beings could more humbly receive this mystery---which the world is filled with..."

"Books inviting us to read, on the bookshelves stand. Piers for bridges that will lead, into Fairyland."

"Books, like friends, should be few and well chosen."

"But because truly being here is so much; because everything here apparently needs us, this fleeting world, which in some strange way keeps calling to us. Us, the most fleeting of all. Once for each thing. Just once; no more. And we too, just once. And never again. But to have been this once, completely, even if only once: to have been at one with the earth, seems beyond undoing."

"But now that so much is different, it is not up to us to change us? Could not we try to develop ourselves a little, and slowly work our share in the love upon us by and by? It has saved us all their hardships, and it is us slipped under the distractions, such as in a child's game sometimes loading a piece of real lace, and is happy and not happy, and finally lying on broken apart and genome Carlos Menem, worse than anything. We are spoiled by easy enjoyment like all dilettanti and stand the smell of the championship. But what if we despised our successes, as if we were starting from scratch, the work of the love of learning, which was always done for us? What if we went and beginners would, now that many things have changed. "

"But suppose the endlessly dead were to wake in us some emblem: they might point to the catkins hanging from the empty hazel trees, or direct us to the rain descending on black earth in early spring. --- And we, who always think of happiness rising, would feel the emotion that almost baffles us when a happy thing falls."

"But there is much beauty here, because there is much beauty everywhere."

"But this is what ... people are so often and disastrously wrong in doing: they (who by their very nature are impatient) fling themselves at each other when love takes hold of them, they scatter themselves, just as they are, in all their messiness, disorder, bewilderment."

"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."

"But, if all this is possible, has even an appearance of possibility-then for heaven's sake something has to happen. The first person who comes along, the one who has had this disquieting thought, must begin to accomplish some of what has been missed; even if he is just anyone, not the most suitable person: there is simply no one else there. This young, irrelevant foreigner, Brigge, will have to sit himself down five flights up and write, day and night, he will just have to write, and that will be that."

"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."

"Comfort me from wherever you are"

"Confess to yourself in the deepest hour of the night whether you would have to die if you were forbidden to write. Dig deep into your heart, where the answer spread its roots in your being, and ask yourself solemnly. Must I write?"

"Deeply I go down into myself. My god is Dark and like a webbing made of a hundred roots that drink in silence."

"Describe your sorrows and desires, the thoughts that pass through your mind and your belief in some kind of beauty - describe all these with heartfelt, silent, humble sincerity and, when you express yourself, use the Things around you, the images from your dreams, and the objects that you remember. If your everyday life seems poor, don"

"Destiny itself is like a wonderful wide tapestry in which every thread is guided by an unspeakable tender hand, placed beside another thread and held and carried by a hundred others."

"Do continue to believe that with your feeling and your work you are taking part in the greatest; the more strongly you cultivate this belief, the more will reality and the world go forth from it."

"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."

"Do not, do not, do not books for ever"

"Do you recall, from your childhood on, how very much this life of yours has longed for greatness? I see it now, how from the vantage point of greatness it longs for even greater greatness. That is why it does not let up being difficult, but that is also why it will not cease to grow."

"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."

"Don't observe yourself too closely. Don't be too quick to draw conclusions from what happens to you; simply let it happen."

"Earth, my dearest, oh believe me, you no longer need your springtimes to win me over...Unspeakably, I have belonged to you, from the flush."

"Embrace your solitude and love it. Endure the pain it causes, and try to sing out with it. For those near to you are distant..."

"ERANNA TO SAPPHO - O You wild adept at throwing! Like a spear by other things, I'd lain there beside my next of kin. Your strain flung me far. To where's beyond my knowing. None can bring me back again. Sisters think upon me as they twine, and the house is full of warm relation. I alone am out of the design, and I tremble like a supplication; for the lovely goddess all creation bowers in legend lives this life of mine. SAPPHO TO ERANNA - With unrest I want to inundate you, want to brandish you, you vine-wreathed stave. Want, like death itself, to penetrate you and to pass you onwards like the grave to the All: to all these things that wait you."

"Every angel is terrible. And yet, alas I welcome you, almost fatal birds of the soul, knowing about you. If the archangel came now, the perilous one, from the back of the stars but one step lower and toward us, our own high beating heart would slay us. Who are you? You early successes, spoiled darlings of creation..."

"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."

"Everyone once, once only. Just once and no more. And we also once. Never again. But this having been once, although only once, to have been of the earth, seems irrevocable."

"Everything in the world of things and animals is still filled with happening, which you can take part in."

"Everything is blooming most recklessly; if it were voices instead of colors, there would be an unbelievable shrieking into the heart of the night."