January 25, 2010

The Sixth Letter

***The first three letters were posted in "10 days of Rilke 'til Christmas" in December 2009. Unfortunately the rest of the ten letters weren't posted by then, so here's the rest of this very profound writing for your enlightenment.

Letters to a young poet
Rainer Maria Rilke

“You should not be without a greeting from me at Christmastime, when in the midst of the festivities your feeling of aloneness is apt to weigh more heavily upon you. Whenever you notice that it looms large, then be glad about it. For what would aloneness be…if it did not possess greatness? There exists only one aloneness, …and it is not easy to bear. To nearly everyone come those hours that we would gladly exchange for…most banal camaraderie… the second-best or the most unworthy thing. But perhaps it is exactly in those hours when aloneness can flourish. Its growth is painful as the growing up of a young boy and sad as the emergence of springtime.

…what you need is…inner solitude. To go within and for hours not to meet anyone…To be lonely as one was lonely as a child, while adults were moving about…—that must be the goal. And when you realize one day that their activities are superficial, that their careers are paralyzed and no longer linked with life,…why not look at the world as a child would see it—out of the depths of your own world, out of the breadth of your own aloneness…?

…reflect on the world that you carry within yourself. And name this thinking what you wish. It might be recollections of your childhood or yearning for your own future…observe carefully what wells up within you and place that above everything that you notice around you. Your innermost happening is worth all your love.

Do not expend too much courage or time to clarify your position to others…The individual person who senses his aloneness…only he, is…subject to the deep laws, the cosmic laws…

…draw close to those things that will not ever leave you. The nights are still there and the winds that roam through the trees...Amidst things and among animals are happenings in which you can participate. The children too, are still the same as you were as a child, sad and happy in the same way…if you think about your childhood, then you can again live among…the lonely children—where the adults count for nothing...

And if it is distressing…for you to think of your childhood…of the simplicity and silence so close akin to it, because you no longer believe in God…ask yourself…whether you have really lost God. Is it not…that you have not yet possessed him? …when could that have been? Do you think a child can hold him, …whose weight crushes the aged ones...that the one possessing him could lose him like a little stone? Or do you not…agree that he who might have him could be lost by him? …if you conclude that he did not exist in your childhood and not before that…and if you, with great dismay, feel that he does not exist, even during this hour…what right have you then to miss him, like someone out of the past, him, who never existed, and to seek him as though he were lost?

Why don’t you think of him as the coming one, who has been at hand since eternity, the future one, the final fruit of a tree, with us as its leaves? ...Don’t you see that everything that happens becomes a beginning again and again? Could it not be his beginning, since a beginning in itself is always so beautiful? If, however, he is the most perfect one, would not what is less than perfect have to precede him, so that he can choose himself from great abundance? Would not he have to be the last one, in order to envelop everything within himself? And what sense would our existence make, if the one we longed for had already had his existence in the past?

…Is there anything now that can rob you of the hope of someday being in him, who is the ultimate, in the infinite future, as once he was in your past?

Celebrate Christmas…with this reverent feeling that he perhaps needs exactly this, your fear of life, in order to begin. Perhaps these very days of your transition are the times that he is touched by everything with you…”

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