Tag Archives: songwriting

R-Rilke Replies: Letters To A Young Poet #atozchallenge.

Dear Rowena,

Thank you very much for your stimulating letter and for seeking my advice. As I understand you’ve been quite particular with your selection, I am honoured to be chosen and delighted that my words have moved and inspired you. Of course, when you die, you quite expect that one day you’ll be forgot. So, indeed, I am chuffed!

Of course, being underground, I miss nature’s beauty, especially that burst of vibrant colour each Spring. How I loved reading Mogens by Jens Peter Jacobsen and his rich descriptions of the trees, their leaves and all their infinitesimal detail. Alas, now I must rely on memory and pictures painted in my head.

I am not lonely here. The worms bring me leaves and their stories and dead poets know how to talk what with Dorothy Parker and her friends at the Algonquin Round Table  and Keats and his Royal Society of Dead Poets. So, “If your daily life seems poor, do not blame it; blame yourself that you are not poet enough to call forth its riches; for the Creator, there is no poverty”.

Yet, your letter brought much joy and I thank you for your great and welcome trust.

As far as to whether my advice to young poets is still useful, I’ll leave that up to you. It’s been some time since I’ve stuck my head above ground. However, despite the grave perils of becoming a poet, I’ll reiterate my advice to young Kappus:

“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; confess to yourself whether you would have to die if you were forbidden to write.

This most of all: ask yourself in the most silent hour of your night: must I write? Dig into yourself for a deep answer. And if this answer rings out in assent, if you meet this solemn question with a strong, simple “I must,” then build your life in accordance with this necessity; your whole life, even into its humblest and most indifferent hour, must become a sign and witness to this impulse. Then come close to Nature. Then, as if no one had ever tried before, try to say what you see and feel and love and lose…[1]

Violin & concert violinist music

By the way, as a violinist, I knew you would appreciate this poem:

At The Brink Of Night

My room and this distance,
awake upon the darkening land,
are one. I am a string
stretched across deep
surging resonance.

Things are violin bodies
full of murmuring darkness,
where women’s weeping dreams,
where the rancor of whole generations
stirs in its sleep . . .
I should release
my silver vibrations: then
everything below me will live,
and whatever strays into things
will seek the light
that falls without end from my dancing tone
into the old abysses
around which heaven swells
through narrow

Rainer Maria Rilke

Lastly, I encourage you to keep asking questions:

“Live your questions now, and perhaps even without knowing it, you will live along some distant day into your answers.”

Rainer Maria Rilke

Anyway, you must leave. Your train is now due to depart.


Rainer Maria Rainer.


[1] Rainer Maria Rilke: Letters To A Young Poet, Dover Publication, 2002 p. 12.

L: John Lennon: A Reply.

Dear Rowena,

Thank you!

I was rather stuck for words myself but I understand that you haven’t been well and this hasn’t been easy for your kids.

You probably weren’t aware that  Hey Jude was actually written for my son as: “Hey Jules”. I wrote it to comfort him after his Mum and I split up. Finding out how to walk through sadness is something everybody needs to learn. After all, we can’t always stay in the sun. We need the seasons just as much as the Earth. They make our experiences so much richer, more complex and diverse. As much as we complain, life would be so boring, if we didn’t have the rain. However, that doesn’t mean you keep standing out there getting wet. Only a fool wouldn’t find an umbrella.

Beatles Red Album

This is what I knew as The Beatles as a kid- Dad’s “Red Album”.

Moreover, as much as your kids might ask for loads of stuff and it’s hard to provide it all, when it really boils down to it, love is all they need. Anything else is a bonus and possible even a distraction.

That applies to you to my friend. I’m not suggesting that you stop writing to dead poets altogether but we have such a brief time in the land of the living. Don’t waste it.

Indeed, get off your laptop, out of that chair and off to the beach. It’s only metres away, and yet time and tide are passing you by. Let your dogs take you by the leash, pulling you along those golden sands. You could even get your feet wet. Frollick in the surf. You know the dogs are always ready, simply waiting by the door.

Don’t worry. You don’t have to keep writing and writing until you’re typing in your sleep. The muse will not desert. Indeed, the muse is part of you. It’s just that you don’t know it yet.

Farewell my friend until we meet again!

Best wishes,

John Lennon.

John Lennon autograph book

John Lennon wrote this in his cousin Stanley’s autograph book.