Rainer Maria Rilke

(4 December 1875 – 29 December 1926 / Prague / Czech Republic)

Rainer Maria Rilke Quotes

  • ''He reproduced himself with so much humble objectivity, with the unquestioning, matter of fact interest of a dog who sees himself in a mirror and thinks: there's another dog.''
    Rainer Maria Rilke (1875-1926), German poet. Letter, October 23, 1907. Letters on Cézanne (1952, trans. 1985). On Cézanne.
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  • ''The great renewal of the world will perhaps consist in this, that man and maid, freed of all false feelings and reluctances, will seek each other not as opposites, but as brother and sister, as neighbors, and will come together as human beings.''
    Rainer Maria Rilke (1875-1926), German poet. Letter, July 16, 1903. Letters to a Young Poet (1934, rev. 1954).
  • ''Not since Moses has anyone seen a mountain so greatly.''
    Rainer Maria Rilke (1875-1926), German poet. Quoted in Rilke, Letters on Cézanne, foreword (1952, trans. 1985). Remarking on Cézanne's picture of the Montagne Sainte-Victoire to Count Harry Kessler.
  • ''Just as the creative artist is not allowed to choose, neither is he permitted to turn his back on anything: a single refusal, and he is cast out of the state of grace and becomes sinful all the way through.''
    Rainer Maria Rilke (1875-1926), German poet. Letter, October 23, 1907, to his wife. Rilke's Letters on Cézanne (1952, trans. 1985).
  • ''Surely all art is the result of one's having been in danger, of having gone through an experience all the way to the end, where no one can go any further.''
    Rainer Maria Rilke (1875-1926), German poet. Letter, June 24, 1907, to his wife. Rilke's Letters on Cézanne (1952, trans. 1985).
  • ''Just as language has no longer anything in common with the thing it names, so the movements of most of the people who live in cities have lost their connexion with the earth; they hang, as it were, in the air, hover in all directions, and find no place where they can settle.''
    Rainer Maria Rilke (1875-1926), German poet. repr. In Rodin and Other Prose Pieces (1954). Worpswede (1903).

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Best Poem of Rainer Maria Rilke

A Walk

My eyes already touch the sunny hill.
going far ahead of the road I have begun.
So we are grasped by what we cannot grasp;
it has inner light, even from a distance-

and charges us, even if we do not reach it,
into something else, which, hardly sensing it,
we already are; a gesture waves us on
answering our own wave...
but what we feel is the wind in our faces.


Translated by Robert Bly

Read the full of A Walk

From The Tenth Elegy

Ah, but the City of Pain: how strange its streets are:
the false silence of sound drowning sound,
and there--proud, brazen, effluence from the mold of emptiness--
the gilded hubbub, the bursting monument.
How an Angel would stamp out their market of solaces,
set up alongside their church bought to order:
clean and closed and woeful as a post office on Sunday.
Outside, though, there's always the billowing edge of the fair.
Swings of Freedom! High-divers and Jugglers of Zeal!

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