Rilke’s letters to a young poet

In his 3rd letter to the young poet Rilke talks about literary criticism. Read as little of criticism as possible, he advises the young man, because such opinions are partisan or  petrified opinions devoid of life.

 Works of art are of an infinite solitude and no means of approach is as useless as criticism .Only love can touch and hold them and be fair to them.

 The words are beautiful and ring so true. Criticism  reduces a work of art to a lifeless entity capable of being dissected publicly for its merits and demerits. The appreciation of art can only be done through an exquisite sensibility born out of love and feeling, not through ratiocination. Wordsworth has defined poetry as the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings .Our response to poetry should therefore be guided by feelings and not by intellect.

 Rilke advocates patience in fully arriving at the beauty of a work of art as no  amount of intellect helps to guide us through the essential beauty of the work without a sensibility born of love and feeling:

Always trust yourself and your own feeling, as opposed to argumentations, discussions, or introductions of that sort; if it turns out that you are wrong, then the natural growth of your inner life will eventually guide you to other insights. Allow your judgments their own silent, undisturbed development, which, like all progress, must come from deep within and cannot be forced or hastened. Everything is gestation and then birthing. To let each impression and each embryo of a feeling come to completion, entirely in itself, in the dark, in the unsayable, the unconscious, beyond the reach of one’s own understanding, and with deep humility and patience to wait for the hour when a new clarity is born: this alone is what it means to live as an artist: in understanding as in creating…”


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