Review: Letters to a Young Poet

Have patience with everything that remains unsolved in your heart

Let me start by saying that I had no idea what this book was about when I bought it. Admittedly, I bought it entirely because of the title. “Letters to a Young Poet” just really tickled my fancy (ya know, young poet here and all). And to be fair, that might be why I was slightly dissapointed to find 0 poetry inside. So that one is entirely on me.

But, I won’t fully take the blame for being dissapointed when I found out there was little mention of actual writing. Instead, the letters in this booklet were almost entirely devoted to life insights. Which makes sense, because poetry is life insights given shape. But it wasn’t entirely satisfying. And I think that was because, though Rilke has a special talent of making the mundane sound magical, I found him rather pessimistic.

Maybe it’s the zeitgeist, or just the vast differences between our lives – but I found it hard to connect with Rilke’s words at times. It was like I could admire and acknowledge the beauty, but was unable to fully live the beauty (if that makes sense).

Regardless, Rilke does make some very good points. I especially enjoyed the section where he discussed questions in life / how to deal with not knowing things in life – which is where the quote above comes from. And I did find myself forced to consider topics I would usually not think about as much. As such, I decided to rate this little booklet a 3.5/5 stars. Because all I really wanted was to be forced to think about things I usually wouldn’t consider that deeply. And, when you glance past the pessimism, Rilke does have some bright things to say that deserve your attention.


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