Rainer Maria Rilke on patience

"Tree in Four Seasons"

"Tree in Four Seasons"
Image credit: The Daily Show Forums

And let me here at once request you: read as few aesthetic-critical things as possible,—they are either partisan opinions, become hardened and meaningless in their lifeless petrifaction, or else they are a skilful play upon words, in which one view is uppermost today and its opposite tomorrow. Works of art are of an infinite solitariness, and nothing is less likely to bring us near to them than criticism. Only love can apprehend and hold them, and can be just towards them.—Decide each time according to yourself and your feelings in the face of every such declaration, discussion or introduction; if you should still be wrong, the natural growth of your inner life will lead you slowly in the course of time to other perceptions. Let your judgments have their own quiet, undisturbed development, which must, like all progress, come from deep within, and cannot in any way be pressed or hurried. It means everything to carry for the full time and then to bring forth. To allow every impression and every germ of a feeling to grow to completion wholly in yourself, in the darkness, in the unutterable, unconscious, inaccessible to your own understanding, and to await with deep humility and patience the hour of birth of a new clarity: that is alone what living as an artist means: in understanding as in creation.

There is no measuring by time there, a year there has no meaning, and ten years are nothing. To be an artist means: not to reckon and count; to ripen like the tree which does not force its sap and stands confident in the storms of Spring without fear lest no Summer might come after. It does come. But it comes only to the patient ones, who are there as if eternity lay in front of them, so unconcernedly still and far. I am learning it daily, learning it through pains to which I am grateful: patience is all!
Rainer Maria Rilke in Letters to a Young Poet, translated by Reginald Snell, (Mineola, New York: Courier Dover Publications, 2002), p. 17. A collection of letters written to Franz Xaver Kappus between 1903-1908. Originally published in the German as Briefe an einen jungen dichter, (Leipzig: Insel-Verlag, 1929).

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"And let me here at once request you"
Rainer Maria Rilke Posted on behalf of on Wednesday, March 10th, 2010 under Quotations.


  1. Amina Wolfe says:

    can’t resist hearkening back to a previous quotation from fictional Harry Lime about the Swiss in light of the fact that Rilke took Swiss citizenship. See, the entersection is working!

  2. I really appreciate the posting of this text, especially the line with the tree not forcing its sap as no fear of summer exists for the tree. I’m having a difficult time taking the next big step in my progress of becoming a conductor of music, and my professor just wrote me a letter with this quotation in it. Thank you again for the posting.

  3. lovely reminder.
    also enjoyed the two most recent ones! thanks for your efforts for sharing with many. : )

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