Born on the 4th December 1875, Rainer Maria Rilke’s full name is Rene Karl Wilhelm Johann Josef Maria Rilke. He was a Bohemian-Austrian poet and novelists, writing both novels as well as collections of poetry that include the verse and lyrical prose. Within his poetry and correspondence, he discusses themes of solitude and the age in which he lived and was frequently described as mystical in his writing, developing an intense focus on language in his work.
A prolific writer, he travelled around Europe and settled in Switzerland, which became the inspiration for much of his later work, particularly poetry. He master of languages meant that he also published hundreds of poems in French, broadening his audience and supporters. It is difficult to pick out his best-known pieces, given just how much he produced but some of the more famous collections of poetry include Duino Elegies and Sonnets to Orpheus.
He continued to be an inspiration to others long after his death, inspiring self help gurus and theologians, as well as continuing to be one of the best selling poets in the United States of America. He is a man whose work has inspired people for a hundred years and this collection of quotations just shows why that is the case.
1. This is the miracle that happens every time to those who really love: the more they give, the more they possess.
2. Perhaps all the dragons of our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us once beautiful and brave.
3. I hold this to be the highest task for a bond between two people: that each protects the solitude of the other.
4. There are no classes in life for beginners; right away you are always asked to deal with what is most difficult.
5. Perhaps everything terrible is in its deepest being something helpless that wants help from us.
6. There are quantities of human beings, but there are many more faces, for each person has several.
7. More belongs to marriage than four legs in a bed.
8. Believe that with your feelings and your work you are taking part in the greatest; the more strongly you cultivate this belief, the more will reality and the world go forth from it.
9. One had to take some action against fear when once it laid hold of one.
10. All emotions are pure which gather you and lift you up; that emotion is impure which seizes only one side of your being and so distorts you.
11. The purpose of life is to be defeated by greater and greater things.
12. Spring has returned. The Earth is like a child that knows poems.
13. 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.
14. There are so many things about which some old man ought to tell one while one is little; for when one is grown one would know them as a matter of course.
15. The deepest experience of the creator is feminine, for it is experience of receiving and bearing.
16. Once the realization is accepted that even between the closest human beings infinite distances continue, a wonderful living side by side can grow, if they succeed in loving the distance between them which makes it possible for each to see the other whole against the sky.
17. It is a tremendous act of violence to begin anything. I am not able to begin. I simply skip what should be the beginning.
18. All the soarings of my mind begin in my blood.
19. Let life happen to you. Believe me: life is in the right, always.
20. 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.
21. Who has not sat before his own heart’s curtain? It lifts: and the scenery is falling apart.
22. There may be good, but there are no pleasant marriages.
23. For one human being to love another; that is perhaps the most difficult of all our tasks, the ultimate, the last test and proof, the work for which all other work is but preparation.
24. Live your questions now, and perhaps even without knowing it, you will live along some distant day into your answers.
25. The only journey is the one within.
26. Truly to sing, that is a different breath.
27. Everything is blooming most recklessly; if it were voices instead of colors, there would be an unbelievable shrieking into the heart of the night.
28. If your daily life seems poor, do not blame it; blame yourself that you are not poet enough to call forth its riches; for the Creator, there is no poverty.
29. Love is like the measles. The older you get it, the worse the attack.
30. It is good to be solitary, for solitude is difficult; that something is difficult must be a reason the more for us to do it.
31. And now we welcome the new year. Full of things that have never been.
32. No great art has ever been made without the artist having known danger
33. 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.
34. Love consists in this, that two solitudes protect and touch and greet each other.
35. I want to be with those who know secret things or else alone.
36. The future enters into us, in order to transform itself in us, long before it happens.