Sunday, September 03, 2006

Random Rilke

I'm out of town for the holiday weekend. Unlike most I'm not dodging Seagulls at Ocean City or falling asleep at Bethany, but living it up somewhere deep in New Jersey for a wedding. Not mine, I promise. I would have written something a little more about it before now if I was getting married.

During my travels up above the Mason-Dixon line, I've been reading the first assignment for my Library Ethics class: it's a teeny little book called Letters to a Young Poet by Rilke. How I've missed this little gem for so long I'll never know. Essentially, it's a series of ten short letters to an aspiring poet who attended the same millitary academy Rilke did. It's easy to read, very conversational, and, like Rilke's poetry, filled with little nuggets of wisdom for artists specifically, but also for people in general.

You are so young, so before all beginning, and I want to beg you, as much as I can, dear sir, to be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves like locked rooms and like books that are written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything now. Live the questions.

This is, I'm guessing, one of the key points for our class. To begin asking those big questions we're all too often afraid to confront. But it's a great point for any writer. Not so much what does my story, my essay, my poem answer but what does it ask? What journey can it send its reader onto that they will never forget? Thath for me is the difference between a book that's a good read and a book that's a great work of art. All good works find a way to do this, and I don't think it's something that can really be taught. You either learn it on your own or you never learn it. I just need to figure out how for myself.

Hope everyone enjoys the holiday.


1 comment:

LadyLitBlitzin said...

What a great post. I read it in college, but not too long ago I was thinking I should really pick it up again. It sounds like it's just as inspiring as I remembered it was (hazy recollections from college, I might add). Thanks for reminder to give Rilke another read.