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“Live your way into the answer”

8 October 2010

In 1902, Rainer Maria Rilke started to receive poems from a young man by the name of Franz Kappus, a student at his alma mater who was about to enter the German military. Kappus wanted criticism of his poems, but what Rilke gave him was a series of ten letters that comprise a guidebook to life. Three years after Rilke’s death, Kappus compiled the letters and published them as Letters to a Young Poet.

The following is a quote from the Fourth Letter, dated 16 July 1903, from Worpswede, Germany.

I would like to beg you, dear Sir, as well as I can, to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.


One Comment leave one →
  1. 9 October 2010 09:29

    Thanks for this quote – and for calling to mind this wonderful book. It was a treasure to me almost 30 years ago. I have it tucked away on a shelf somewhere – must revisit it.

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