Monday, November 19, 2007

Ranier Maria Rilke, a translation

You ask whether your verses are any good. You ask me. You have asked others before this. You send them to magazines. You compare them with other poems, and you are upset when certain editors reject your work.

Now (since you have said you want my advice) I beg you to stop doing that sort of thing. You are looking outside, and that is what you should most avoid right now. No one can advise or help you - no one.

There is only one thing you should do. Go into yourself. Find out the reason that commands you to write; see whether it has spread its roots into the very depths of your heart; confess to yourself whether you would have to die if you were forbidden to write.

This most of all: ask yourself in the most silent hour of your night: must I write? Dig into yourself for a deep answer. And if this answer rings out in assent, if you meet this solemn question with a strong, simple "I must," then build your life in accordance with this necessity; your while life, even into its humblest and most indifferent hour, must become a sign and witness to this impulse.

Thanks Laura for pointing the way here.


V-Grrrl said...


I can't NOT write. I've been writing for myself (and others) since I was 11 years old.

Di Mackey said...

My first book was around age 13 ... it was on dogs.

My friend's father was an artist, he kindly created a stunning sketch to go with the dog photographs I had in my book.

I remember sitting on the steps of my childhood home back in Green Street, Mum and Dad pretending to be so proud of me and my writing.

And then there's photography ...

Manictastic said...

It depends what you want from your writing. If you want to earn money through it, you'll have to make it broad and general, yet in contrast with what so many artists these days pretend that does not mean it can't be high quality. Shakespeare wrote for a living, Dickens wrote for a living, so many others wrote for a living.
But for most people, writing is a must to help them understand themselves better, and they should indeed not ask whether their art is great, whether their art could make them a living. It is just there as therapy and that should be sufficient.