“The Journey Within”

The only journey is the one within.

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Rainer Maria Rilke is one of the most important poets and writers of the twentieth century. He wrote in both German and French, but his famous work “The Journey Within” was written solely in French. The phrase refers to an inner journey that each person must take for themselves. Let’s get on with discovering Rilke and what he achieved…

Ok, I’ve never heard of Rilke. Who was he? When and where did he live?

Rainer Marie Rilke was born in 1875 and passed away in 1926. He is considered one of the most important poets and writers of the twentieth century. In addition to being a writer, he also worked as a photographer’s assistant from 1907 until 1910.

In 1913 at age 38, Rilke had his first significant publication, which was called the Sonnets to Orpheus. The work is considered one of his most important pieces and contains 100 poems that are divided into two books.

In these poems, Rilke writes about his search for truth and peace from a new-found spirituality that he found in the Greek culture. He also refers to some of his earlier works as being too one-sided and incomplete. In Book I, he speaks of the great conflict between the Gods Apollo and Dionysus, and how they embody two very different aspects of life: intellect versus emotion; order versus chaos; symmetry versus disparity; beauty versus terror. He also invokes Orpheus and compares him with Jesus Christ, who descended into hell and ascended into Heaven.

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And here is a quote:

“For it is not merely our most hidden depths that we must evoke in order to live – but at times also what is most obvious, closest to us, still almost untouched. The journey within, man’s longest and perhaps hardest journey is the one that leads to himself.”

“The only journey is the one within”. Pick up a copy of his book Letters to a Young Poet and read through some of his most famous works on poetry, love, and what it means to be human. He was an influential poet who had connections with many other writers such as Franz Kafka and Sigmund Freud[1]. His work is still taught in colleges and universities around the world today, while his ideas have influenced many other thinkers.

Rilke’s travels

He traveled extensively through Italy, Germany, and France before settling in Switzerland. His family had a history of mental illness, which is why he was particularly passionate about the treatment of people with psychological problems. He wrote numerous poems and novels during his life including Die Aufzeichnungen des Malte Laurids Brigge “The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge (1930) and Neue Gedichte “New Poems” (1907).

“It is good to love many things, for therein lies the true strength, and whosoever loves much performs much, and can accomplish much, and what is done in love is well done!”.


He wrote about relationships between humans with God or nature. He was often quoted as saying that “love is the force through which we can penetrate from our innermost to another.” Rainer Maria Rilke wanted people to realise their own experiences and emotions.

“For one human being to love another: that is perhaps the most difficult of all our tasks, the ultimate, the last test and proof, the work for which all other work is but preparation.”

His life was full of experiences with people and he believed that there are two ways to deal with the world. He wrote about how “the first step in cultivating love consists simply in being kind whenever possible, just as a gardener cultivates his plot”. The second step is to allow oneself to be transformed by love, which he believed is more difficult than the first step.

“You only have to let yourself go and everything follows.”

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[1] https://www.researchgate.net/publication/274170602_The_psychoanalyst_and_the_poet_-_a_meeting_between_Sigmund_Freud_and_Rainer_Maria_Rilke_1

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