René Karl Wilhelm Johann Josef Maria Rilke, better known as Rainer Maria Rilke, was an Austrian poet and novelist. He is “widely recognized as one of the most lyrically intense German-language poets”. He wrote both verse and highly lyrical prose. Several critics have described Rilke’s work as “mystical” – Wikipedia
Love, Beauty and Solitude: Translating Rilke with Anita Barrows and Joanna Macy – “It is good to be solitary, because solitude is difficult, and that a thing is difficult must be even more of a reason for us to undertake it. To love is good too, for love is difficult. For one person to care for another, that is perhaps the most difficult thing required of us, the utmost and final test, the work for which all other work is but a preparation. With our whole being, with all the strength we have gathered, we must learn to love.” – Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke, translated by Anita Barrows and Joanna Macy
At the turn of the 20th Century, a teenage military cadet and budding poet began a correspondence with Rainer Maria Rilke. The young man expected assistance with his art, some guidance and criticism perhaps, but instead received something far greater: instructions on love and solitude, beauty and art, spirituality and life. Almost 100 years on, two grand dames of literature – Joanna Macy and Anita Barrows – have delivered a new translation of Rilke’s Letters to a Young Poet. They consider him “a close friend” and poetic “alter ego”.
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Letters to a young poet – translated by Barrows and Macy