Page Up Ep #11: Lessons from Rilke’s Letters to a Young Poet
In this episode Dr. Lauria shares lessons from Rainer Maria Rilke’s Letters to A Young Poet. In this book almost every question a new author has is addressed and the answer Rilke profoundly returns to almost each is to turn inward for the truth. Rilke says:
” Do not seek the answers, which cannot be given you, because you would not be able to live them, and the point is to live everything.
Live the question now, perhaps you will then, gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.”
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You’re listening to Paige up with Dr. Angela Lauria Episode 11. Lessons from Rilke’s Letters to a Young Poet
Welcome to page up a podcast for authors and transformation, featuring advice on the basic fundamentals of selecting a book topic and overcoming writer’s block to advanced techniques for publishing and marketing nonfiction books. Now, get ready to press page up on your book with your host, best selling author and publisher, Dr. Angela Lauria.
Hey everyone, we are back and this is going to be my first special episode featuring one of my greatest teachers. So in today’s episode, Episode 11, we are going to talk about Rainer Maria Rilke has Letters to a Young poet. I’ve talked about it before on this show. If you work with me, if you read my book, you will hear about real QA. So this is my first special episode sharing lessons from real gods. I was inspired to do these special lessons by one of my teachers Brooke Castillo, whose podcast, which is called the Life Coach School. Brooke Castillo is fabulous. And my favorite episodes that she does is where she teaches lessons from some of her favorite from him, some of her favorite teachers, like Eckhart Tolle and Pema children and Byron, Katie, those are some of my favorite episodes of her. So I wanted to do the same thing with some of my greatest teachers and certainly right at the top of that list is real QA if you do not know Rilke, and I’m surprised by how many people don’t, although some of his quotes might sound familiar to you, but Letters to a Young poet is a public domain book. Which means there are about 1000 different versions of it because it is very old and out of Copyright. So there’s lots of books, different translations, and lots of opinions on those translations. I would encourage you to buy yourself a copy of this mine is so dog eared and marked up. You can certainly get it for free. If you Google it, you will find many copies of it. But however you get it, I would get yourself a copy of this book.
I think I’m going to hopefully inspire you today by sharing some of my greatest lessons from this teeny tiny little book. I happen to use the Norton translation, but I know there are other newer translations out there, and lots of opinions on those But for today, I think the one that I’ve heard is the Stephen Mitchell translation people really like anyway. One of the things I always do at my Which I’m going to do today is I randomly open a page in Rilke’s book and I have something highlighted on every page. So the page I open to is page 65. And this is the message I want to start with and then I will tell you some of the many reasons why bRilke is so important to me. But this passage, this is a fascinating passage. I’ve read this about a million times. There are so many times as a writer that we want to fix things and fast forward through the hard stuff, not just as a writer but really as a human. But Rilke says in order to transform something else has to happen. So he says, and this is why it’s so important to be lonely and attentive when one is sad, because the apparently uneventful and Stark moment at which our Future sets foot in us is so much closer to life than that other noisy, fortuitous point of time at which it happens to us. As if from outside, the more still more patient and more open we are, when we are sad, so much deeper and so much more, unswervingly, does the new go into us, so much the better do we make it our so much the more will it be our destiny, when on when on some later day it happens that is steps forth out of us to others, we shall feel in our innermost selves Akin and near to it and that is necessary.
So real because the message and the message that so powerfully stuck with me when I read this book when I was in my early 20s, he’s always about going inside for the answers. But if you don’t know the backstory of this book, you might think he was. He was writing, writing to any of us who are writers. But really these letters, the letters to a young poet are 10. In fact, 10 letters with a young military cadet named friends campus. brands, like Rilke was a military academy, the same one that Rilke went to, and he was trying to decide whether he should be a military officer or whether he should be a poet. And he had been told about this moderately successful poet who’d graduated about eight years before him. So he decided what he would do is send some of his poems to Rilke got got his address from a professor and he said Listen, do you think these are good enough any Are there any Any agents you want to recommend me to any publishers thinking about being a poet just want to make sure before I embark on this journey that that I’m good enough and wow did Rilke have a field day with that 10 letters over five years and Rilke says of caves that he saw him as a fellow suffer caught up in the workings of the officer dispensing machine. That was the Austrian military academies. And so like you, like many of my authors any way that they see their ideal reader as somebody who is caught up in suffering, caught up in unnecessary suffering and caught up in suffering that probably the author themselves went through. Certainly Rilke had gone through a lot of what Kayfis went through.
And what many people would do if you didn’t have the orientation that Rilke had is you would want to say like, Listen, Kayfis get out of school, don’t even worry about graduating. Here’s what you’re going to do. You’re going to find an agent to get an apartment in Paris, I got hooked up with Rodin. I’m getting paid to do some work for him writing about Rodin. I’ve got an agent. It’s not exactly my poetry, but it’s paying the bills. I get you hooked up. There’s a ton of artists here in Paris, come join me. Right, he would want many of us to fix things for people who are suffering. But what Rilke believed and what he teaches is the only journey is the one within he’s really an existentialist in many ways. And so as much as he wanted to fix cases instead, he developed a relationship with him to encourage us to start to see himself as the leader of his own journey.
And he really understood almost as an existentialist that the questions that drive so many of us authors is when it comes down to it am I alone? Like what else is there and is what I love is poetry or, you know, helping people, whatever your thing is, is that enough? And Rilke said that we must ultimately make all of our decisions alone and that our lives may not automatically be fulfilling. He says, I want to beg of you as much as I can to be patient towards all that is unsolved in your heart, and learn to love the questions themselves like locked rooms, or like books that are written in a very foreign tongue. do not seek the answers which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything, live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer. Living into the answer that is our journey as author, so many of us want to be done with all our learning, and to write our books from this finish state and that desire of trying to be finished and then I’ll write the book that holds so many people back from sharing their message. And it’s kept so many people from healing, because these messages haven’t gotten out there. And so my mission to which I learned from Rilke 20 something years ago, is to create a safe space for you to live the questions now much like he attempted to create a safe space for cases to live the questions. Living the questions doesn’t mean waiting to write your book. It means living fully being invested where you are right now. And the things that seemed like questions to you now our answers for those who are behind you. Rilke asks why we should persist in our humaneness? repeatedly he asked this of himself and he is asked of this by Kayfis Why not? Why not throw in the towel and he says, because truly being here is so much because everything here needs us this fleeting world, which in some strange way keeps calling to us, us the most fleeting of all, And if you listen to my podcast I know you have heard that strange calling I know that everything here apparently needs us and needs you so I’m going to share with you some of the concepts today and have a little bit of a discussion and then hopefully you can share with me your your comments about Rilke come to the Author Incubator dot com slash 11. lucky number 11. And share with me your favorite teachings from yoga from the show or if there’s other Rilke stuff you’re familiar with. I’m pretty much just going to confine my comments today to Letters to a Young poet. It’s 120 pages. And it’s been my favorite book for over two decades and Well, I’ve read real because other stuff is the book that I always come back to.
Now a little background on Rilke. Look, life wasn’t easy for him. He was born into a military family but he was a poet. He was a wayfinder. He was a shaman. Of course he didn’t have words for that when he was growing up. So instead he had sickness, like many people who are born shamans and in their communities that maybe isn’t a good fit. He said long ago in my childhood during the Great fevers of my illnesses, huge, indescribable fears arose fears of ads of something too big, too hard to close, deep, unspeakable fears that I still remember. And he was too young to know what to do with all of that, and he went to military school and he was going to be a military officer.
But he realized he couldn’t do anything but write. It was as if he had no, no choice almost to because anything else was so painful. But this was very hard for him. It was hard for his family and he was always looking for a surrogate mother. He really felt like a disappointment to his mother and he’s had which I love. I only see my mom occasionally but as you know every encounter with her is sort of a relapse. So maybe you have a parent where that is the case for you to every encounter is sort of a relapse. He said that to one of his surrogate mothers So anyway, Kayfis comes to him and he says, Are my poems any good? And certainly, that’s something that happens to me. And my answer is much like real cuz Rilke said, I cannot say anything about the form of your verses. For I find all such critical intent quite uncongenial. Nothing could be less conducive to reaching an artwork than critical remarks. It’s always simply a matter of more or less for fortunate misunderstandings.
Everything cannot Be so easily grasped and conveyed as we are generally led to believe. Most events are unconventional and come to pass in a space that no word has ever penetrated more on conveyable than all else, or works of art, whose mysterious existence whose lives run alongside ours which parishes whereas there’s indoors and your artwork your book is a legacy but at the same time, you will never be able to truly communicate everything that you want to say, much lives in the cracks in the cracks of your books. we attempt to communicate I believe, but we never can all go away get there, Vic and Stein wrote, wrote about that which cannot be spoken must remain silent and so much does. And that I think in part is why solitary-ness is so important for Rilke; he says you have to be bored, you have to spend time alone. You have to be uncomfortable, you have to be in difficult situations, because that is the only way you can really live. And he noticed that so many people chose to live in this sort of liminal stage of not totally miserable and not totally happy, but just fine and in the middle, but he said no, dive into that which is difficult. He said, We must hew to what is difficult, everything that lives in it. And he talked about living at this deeper level, not existing but really living. He said nobody could advise you and help you. There’s only one way to proceed. Go inside yourself. Explore the reason Ones that compel you to write, test whether it stretches its roots into the deepest part of your heart, and admit to yourself whether you would have to die if the opportunity to write were withheld from you. Above all, ask yourself at your most silent hour of the night, must I write? I say so often to people, I’m talking to you about writing their books, they have an idea and it’s a good idea. But I say to them, I can’t work with you. And the reason I can’t work with you is I think you would be perfectly fine not writing this book. And the people who I am called to work with must write and I think that is why I connect so deeply with this calling of Rilke. He says, find out the reason that commands you to write, see whether it has spread its roots into the very depths of your heart and confess to your If you would die if you were forbidden to write those are my authors.
Those are the people who are making the biggest difference. Rilke also felt that boredom was part of this; boredom was essential to spur human action as a state of pure as potential, a kind of an effect list waiting as the spirit what I say is your inner author gala gathers itself for a leap into the deep. He felt that boredom while it was seemingly on eventful and static, maybe that’s the time for you leading up to writing your book. It’s the time when our future enters into us when our future enters into us. So, again, I’m going to share some of my favorite quotes from real good that have influenced me. There are so many, so add your favorite quotes from real good www dot the Author Incubator comm slash 11 is where I’ve got the show notes for this show. So all that bad stuff that happened in your life. I believe that is the fuel for your book.
Rilke says perhaps all of the dragons in our lives are merely princesses who are waiting to see us act just once with beauty and courage. Perhaps everything that frightens us in its deepest essence is something helpless that wants our love. He also knew the pain of putting yourself out there, the fear of being seen. But he said let everything happen to you, beauty and terror. Just keep going. No feeling is final. And my take on that is just keep writing forward. You don’t have to publish it. There is no stopping point, there is no end point. Rilke is also the inspiration for my drive to turn our books into love letters, and he talks a lot about love. Rilke says Rilke is sort of an interesting take on love. He says love consists of these two solitudes that meet, protect and greet each other. I talk about meeting your ideal reader where they are on their journey. He says two solitudes there’s not ever true coming together. But there is an agreement to meet, protect and see each other greet each other he says. So how can you do that with your ideal reader? He said to love is good to love being difficult for one human being to love another that is perhaps the most difficult of all of our tasks. The Ultimate, the last test in proof, the work for which all other work is preparation. And that’s how I see your your relationship with your ideal reader. If you truly love them, you don’t get to dictate with them. You get to meet them to protect them and to see them. And yes, hopefully create change. But Rilke had a specific take on that too. He said, a person isn’t who they are during the last conversation you had with them. They’re who they’ve been throughout your whole relationship. And that’s why your book is a relationship with your ideal reader. He understood that you weren’t necessarily going to be perfectly healed about that which you wrote about and in fact, he said that in two cases. Why do you think you’re writing to me, I am eight years ahead of you. That perhaps is your relationship with your ideal reader. He said, Do not assume that he who seeks comfort to you now lives on travel and untroubled among the simple and quiet words that sometimes do you good. His life means real, because life may also have much sadness and difficulty that remains far beyond yours. Where it otherwise would never have been able to find these words. Okay, that would make me cry. I’m going to read that again because I was crying and I want to make sure you get it.
So Rilke says without the pain that he’s had, he couldn’t help Kayfis do not assume that he who seeks to comfort you now lives troubled 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 otherwise He would never have been able to find these words and that is why you need to write your book because no one else can alright Rilke always makes me cry basically just cried through the whole book every time I read it. He says the work of the eyes I’m seeing is done. Go now and do the hard work on the images imprisoned within you. That is what I call freeing your inner author. Yes, there’s all the left brain smart girl or smart guy stuff. You’ve done that work. But the work of the eyes is done. Go now and do the heart work on the images in prison within you. Free your inner author. I’m going to leave you with a little bit of a Byron Katie moment. This is a real quote and I think Byron Katie would love it if you follow Byron Katie at all. You’ll get that even if you don’t I think you’ll love this quote. Rilke says let life happen to you. Believe me, life is in the right. Always. Or as Byron Katie might say, but only 100% of the time. So my wish for you is that you have the opportunity to get to know real code the way I have. I’m so grateful that he wrote these 10 Letters to a Young poet, and that he was able to change millions of people’s lives over 200 years. This book was finished in 1908 1905, the early 1900s. It has been over 200 year over I’m sorry, over 100 years since his book has been out. And it has changed thousands of lives in that century. And it’s a legacy. It’s a legacy for all of us who have an artist within ourselves, so I couldn’t love him more. Please go find Letters to a Young poet. Somewhere, share with me your favorite quote. And I’m going to ask you to do my little dividing techniques. So all you need to do, and this is best done in a bookstore. But hold a copy of Letters to a Young poet in your hand. And you’ll know exactly what page to open to. And then just put your finger down anywhere on that page. And there is a message that I believe is for you. I just did this and I hit page 27. And here’s what we got. There is nothing that does not seem to have been understood, grasped, experienced and recognized in the tremulous after ring of memory. No experience has been too slight and the least incident unfolds like a destiny and fate. And fate itself is like a wonderful Wide Web, in which each thread is guided by an infinite loop. tender hand laid alongside another, and held and borne up by 100 others.
You will experience the great happiness of reading this book for the first time, and will go through its countless surprises as if in a new dream. Wow, that’s funny that I should pick that one. Well, I do hope you experience the happiness of reading this book for the first time. I am so glad that you join me for my first lessons from a teacher episode. I look forward to teaching you though, some of my favorite lessons from some other teachers on episodes 20 to 3340 450-566-7788 99. Those are my special teacher episodes. So we’ll do another one here in about three months. Thank you for joining us for my first lesson. It was a little bit of a different format for me, so I was kind of nervous about how I was going to do it. Usually I’m teaching you my stuff. Hmm. But I hope that you found this valuable. Please do share that with me in the comments the Author Incubator comm slash 11 our show notes, and I look forward to hearing your favorite real quotes.
This has been another episode of where we help nonfiction authors. It makes a difference. If you like the show today, be sure to tell a friend and leave us a review on iTunes. Check out houses to show book Johnny’s also on iTunes. And don’t forget to sign up for our mailing list at WWW dot the author incubator.com where you can learn more about how you can get your book written.