Books We Should Be Talking About · Reviews

“Letters to a Young Poet” by Rainer Maria Rilke

Drop everything that you are doing and go read this book.

I apologize for the bold text, but this collection of letters is truly a must read, a must feel, a must everything.

I really have no words. I think I will be keeping this one on my bedside table till the end of times. I might need to reach out for it to remember why I keep leaving the bed every single morning.

Most say this book is about writing, and that was indeed how it all started, I guess, a writer asking another writer for help. I do believe it grew to be much more than that though. These letters are about living. Yes, living as opposed to just surviving, even if sometimes that is all one can hope for, all that one can manage. But the feeling of failure that usually accompanies this barely surviving statement? That is a choice, that is a way of looking at things. And that is why, once I finished reading these letters, I went back on my collection of writings and brought this little thing I once wrote with me. It felt right. So here it is.

If anyone asks for me,
tell them I died…
but then tell them I survived.

If anyone calls out for me,
tell them I’m deaf…
but then tell them I can finally hear.

If anyone gives you a letter for me,
tell them I’m blind…
but then tell them I can finally see.

If no one searches for me,
tell them I finally lost…
but then tell them I succeeded.

Many things changed
Many things prevailed

Many paths disappeared
Many paths emerged

Many plans failed
Many plans triumphed

Many people passed away…
but many people were reborn.

If anyone asks for me,
tell them I finally died…
but then tell them I was reborn.

I changed,
but I prevailed.

I disappeared,
but I emerged.

I failed,
but I triumphed.

If nobody searches for me,
tell them I lost…
but then tell them I finally succeeded.

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