from Letters to a Young Poet
Rainer Maria Rilke

  

If we think of this existence of the individual as a larger or smaller room, it appears evident that most people learn to know only a corner of their room, a place by the window, a strip of floor on which they walk up and down.  Thus they have a certain security.  And yet that dangerous insecurity is so much more human which drives the prisoners in Poe's stories to feel out the shapes of their horrible dungeons and not be strangers to the unspeakable terror of their abode.

We, however, are not prisoners.  No traps or snares are set about us, and there is nothing which should intimidate or worry us.  We are set down in life as in the element to which we best correspond, and over and above this we have through thousands of years of accommodation become so like this life, that when we hold still we are, through a happy mimicry, scarcely to be distinguished from all that surrounds us.

We have no reason to mistrust our world, for it is not against us.  Has it terrors, they are our terrors; has it abysses, those abysses belong to us; are dangers at hand, we must try to love them.  And if only we arrange our life according to that principle which counsels us that we must always hold to the difficult, then that which now still seems to us the most alien will become what we most trust and find most faithful.

How should we be able to forget those ancient myths that are at the beginning of all peoples, the myths about dragons that at the last moment turn into princesses; perhaps all the dragons of our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us once beautiful and brave.  Perhaps everything terrible is in its deepest being something helpless that wants help from us.

So you must not be frightened, Dear Mr. Kappus, if a sadness rises up before you larger than any you have ever seen; if a restiveness, like light and cloud-shadows, passes over your hands and over all you do.  You must think that something is happening with you, that life has not forgotten you, that it holds you in its hand; it will not let you fall.
   
    

Letters to a Young Poet is a superb series of
letters from Czech poet Rainer Maria Rilke
to Mr. Kappus, a young poet who writes to Rilke
for advice on his poetry and his life.  Rilke's
responses are heartfelt, spiritual, and deeply
insightful, and they make for wonderful reading.

  
    

Sadness is related to the opening of your heart.
If you allow yourself to feel sad, especially if you can cry,
you will find that your heart opens wider
and you can feel more love and more joy.

Shakti Gawain

  


 
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