Letters to a Young Poet

Ranier Maria Rilke

How should we be able to forget those ancient myths that are at the beginning of all peoples, the myths about dragons that at the last moment turn into princesses; perhaps all the dragons of our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us once beautiful and brave. Perhaps everything terrible is in its deepest being something helpless that wants help from us.

So you must not be frightened [dear Mr. Kappus] if a sadness rises up before you larger than any you have ever seen; if a restiveness, like light and cloud-shadows, passes over your hands and over all you do. You must think that something is happening with you, that life has not forgotten you, that it holds you in its hand; it will not let you fall.


Note: Words enclosed in brackets not included in the CD

Letter Eight
Borgeby gard, Fladie, Sweden
August 12, 1904
translation by M.D. Herter Norton
revised edition
copyright 1934 by W. W. Norton & Co., Inc.
renewed 1962 by M.D. Herter Norton
revised edition copyright 1954 by
W. W. Norton & Co., Inc.

Correct translation kindly found and submitted by Beverly Lee