Letters to a Young Poet
Letters to a Young Poet is a compilation of letters by Rainer Maria Rilke. It consists of 10 letters written to a young man trying to choose between a literary career and entering the Austro-Hungarian Army.
The letters were originally written to Franz Kappus, a 19-year-old officer cadet at the Vienna Military Academy, of which Rilke was an alumnus. Discouraged by the prospect of life in the Austro-Hungarian Army, Kappus began to send his poetry to the 27-year-old Rilke, seeking both literary criticism and career advice. Their correspondence lasted from 1902 to 1908. In 1929, three years after Rilke's death, Kappus assembled and published the ten letters.
The Letters 
Although the first letter from Kappus asked for critiques of his poetry, Rilke gave him very little during their correspondence. He also discouraged Kappus from reading criticism, advising him to trust his inner judgment. Instead, the majority of the letters address personal issues that Kappus revealed to Rilke; their span is tremendous, ranging from atheism, loneliness, sexuality, and career choices.
- The First Letter
Written in Paris, France on 17 February 1903 - Theme of letter: Criticism fails to "touch a work of art." Stop trying to learn others perspectives on your own work. Instead, the young poet should focus inward and examine what truly motivates him to continue writing. He offers insights into how expanding one's internal life is important and suggests shedding external obligations.
- The Second Letter
- The Third Letter
Written in Viareggio, Italy on 23 April 1903
- The Fourth Letter
- The Fifth Letter
- The Sixth Letter
Written in Rome, Italy on 23 December 1903
- The Seventh Letter
Written in Rome, Italy on 14 May 1904
- The Eighth Letter
- The Ninth Letter
- The Tenth Letter
Written in Paris, France on 26 December 1908
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