Rainer Maria Rilke, 1875 - 1926
Born: 4 December 1875, Prague, Bohemia, Austria
Died: 29 December 1926, Montreux, Switzerland
Born René Karl Wilhelm Johann Josef Maria Rilke, his father was career soldier who washed out and ended up working for the railroad, his mother was mourning the death of her daughter. To compensate, his mother forced him to wear girls' clothing for the first five years and, two years later his father compensated for his lost career by sending him to the first of two military academies, which didn't sit well with the boy who already had demonstrated his artistic and creative talents. Illness allowed him to escape the military school and he was tutored for university entrance. He spent two years at Prague and Munich studying literature, art, history, and philosophy. In 1897 he fell in love with Lou Andreas-Salomé, a married woman; the relationship lasted about three years but their friendship continued for the rest of Rilke's life. She convinced him to change his name from René to the more-masculine Rainer, took him on two trips to Russia (one with her husband) where he met Leo Tolstoy and Boris Pasternak. In 1900 he joined the artists' colony at Worpswede and married the sculptress Clara Westhoff the following year. They had a daughter but Rilke left for Paris a year later, again the relationship continued on some level for the rest of his life. At Paris he spent several years writing and working with artists, notably Auguste Rodin and Paul Cezanne. He was living near Trieste but traveling in Germany when World War I broke out and he learned that his property in France had been confiscated. He was drafted by the Germans and with the help of friends stayed out of combat and worked in the War Records Office. After the war he moved to Switzerland, largely to escape the chaos of post-war Germany, the result was a burst of creative work which slowed only when health problems began to interfere in 1923. It was only immediately before his death that his leukemia was diagnosed.
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Rainer Maria Rilke quotes:
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- A person isn't who they are during the last conversation you had with them, they're who they've been throughout your whole relationship. permalink
- A work of art is good if it has grown out of necessity. permalink
- All feelings that concentrate you and lift you up are pure; only that feeling is impure which grasps just one side of your being and thus distorts you. Everything you can think of as you face your childhood, is good. Everything that makes more of you than you have ever been, even in your best hours, is right. Every intensification is good, if it is in your entire blood, if it isn't intoxication or muddiness, but joy which you can see into, clear to the bottom. permalink
- All the soarings of my mind begin in my blood. permalink
- Art too is just a way of living, and however one lives, one can, without knowing, prepare for it; in everything real one is closer to it, more its neighbor, than in the unreal half-artistic professions, which, while they pretend to be close to art, in practice deny and attack the existence of all art. permalink
- Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will find them gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer. permalink
- Being an artist means, not reckoning and counting, but ripening like the tree which does not force its sap and stands confident in the storms of spring without the fear that after them may come no summer. It does come. But it comes only to the patient, who are there as though eternity lay before them, so unconcernedly still and wide. I learn it daily, learn it with pain to which I am grateful: patience is everything! permalink
- Believe that with your feelings and your work you are taking part in the greatest; the more strongly you cultivate this belief, the more will reality and the world go forth from it. permalink
- Do continue to believe that with your feeling and your work you are taking part in the greatest; the more strongly you cultivate this belief, the more will reality and the world go forth from it. permalink
- Do not assume that she who seeks to comfort you now lives untroubled among the simple and quiet words that sometimes do you good. Her life may also have much sadness and difficulty, that remains far beyond yours. Were it otherwise, she would never have been able to find these words. permalink
- Everything is blooming most recklessly; if it were voices instead of colors, there would be an unbelievable shrieking into the heart of the night. permalink
- Everything terrible is something that needs our love. permalink
- Fame is the sum of the misunderstanding that gathers about a new name. permalink
- For beauty is nothing but the beginning of terror, which we still are just able to endure, and we are are so awed because it serenely disdains to annihilate us. Every angel is terrifying. permalink
- For one human being to love another: that is perhaps the most difficult of our tasks; the ultimate, the last test and proof, the work for which all other work is but preparation. permalink
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