For Poets and All Writers

You ask whether your verses are good. You ask me. You have asked others before….You compare them to other poems….I beg you to give up all of that. You are looking outward, and that above all else you should not do now….There is only one single way. Go into yourself. Search for the reason that bids you to write; find out whether it is spreading out its roots in the deepest places of your heart, acknowledge to yourself whether you would have to die if it were denied you to write. This above all else—ask yourself in the stillest hour of your night: must I write? Delve into yourself for a deep answer. And if this should be affirmative, if you may meet this earnest question with a strong and simple, “I must,” then build your life according to this necessity; your life even in its most indifferent and slightest hour must be a sign of this urge and a testimony to it.

From Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke

7 thoughts on “For Poets and All Writers

  1. Yes! Thanks so much for this quote. I read it years ago when I was in graduate school. Had quite forgotten it. I found you because you just left a little trail on my post today. Pleased to meet you.

  2. so true – you do not really have to labour to write a poem or manufacture it – the poem comes when it labours to be born and merely uses you as a vehicle for its conception and delivery – it is no more yours than you are its.

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