Tag Archives: Rainer Maria Rilke

Speaking of living clay

We are, not metaphorically but in very truth, a Divine work of art, something that God is making, and therefore something with which He will not be satisified until it has a certain character. . . Over a sketch made idly to amuse a child, an artist may not take much trouble; he may be content to let it go even though it is not exactly as he meant it to be. But over the great picture of his life — the work which he loves. . . he will take endless trouble — and would doubtless thereby give endless trouble to the picture if it were sentient. One can imagine a sentient picture, after being rubbed and scraped and recommenced for the tenth time, wishing that it were only a thumb-nail sketch whose making was over in a minute. In the same way it is natural for us to wish that God had designed for us a less glorious and less arduous destiny; but then we are wishing not for more love but for less.

-C. S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain

Du mußt dein Leben ändern

JohnSingerSargentSketch

Sketches by John Singer Sargent, 1869; Belvedere Torso, Head of Apollo, Head of Hercules

Go into yourself. Find out the reason that commands you to write; see whether it has spread its roots into the very depths of your heart…

If your everyday life seems poor, don’t blame it; blame yourself; admit to yourself that you are not enough of a poet to call forth its riches; because for the creator there is no poverty and no poor, indifferent place…

[G]o into yourself and see how deep the place is from which your life flows; at its source you will find the answer to the question of whether you must create. Accept that answer, just as it is given to you, without trying to interpret it. Perhaps you will discover that you are called to be an artist. Then take that destiny upon yourself, and bear it, its burden and its greatness, without ever asking what reward might come from outside…

But after this descent into yourself and into your solitude, perhaps you will have to renounce becoming a poet… Nevertheless, even then, this self searching that I ask of you will not have been for nothing. Your life will still find its own paths from there, and that they may be good, rich, and wide is what I wish for you, more than I can say.

-Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet

 Du mußt dein Leben ändern – “You must change your life” – is the concluding statement in Rainer Maria Rilke’s poem “Archaic Torso of Apollo