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Letters To a Young Poet


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There is, as Cynus has suggested, a lot of good stuff in there. However Rilke has messed up a lot of lives with just one sentence of his: 'if, as I have said, one feels one could live without writing, then one shouldn't write at all'.

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There is, as Cynus has suggested, a lot of good stuff in there. However Rilke has messed up a lot of lives with just one sentence of his: 'if, as I have said, one feels one could live without writing, then one shouldn't write at all'.

I, too, raised an eyebrow at that line, yet the way I chose to take it allowed me to let it slide. He was responding directly to a person who sent him poetry, who inquired if he should abandon his current career and pursue poetry instead. I believe Rilke was responding in the context of writing as a career, and I think he meant that if you don't feel writing is a necessity to your soul, you shouldn't try to make a living from it, because it's a difficult place to make a living, and without having the burning passion to back it up, you'll end up somewhere you don't want to be.

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