'Make use of whatever you find about you to express yourself, the images from your dreams and the things in your memory. If your everyday life seems to lack material, do not blame it; blame yourself, tell yourself that you are not poet enough to summon up its riches; for there is no lack for him who creates and no poor, trivial place.'
These ten letters, written by Rainer Maria Rilke to a young officer cadet, are among the most beautiful, inspiring expressions of creativity there has ever been, beloved by writers, artists and musicians of all kinds, including J. D. Salinger, Cy Twombley and Philip Roth.
Giving advice on writing, criticism, love, sex, suffering and the nature of advice-giving itself, they are an invaluable experience and resource for any young artist – lyrical, wise and, often, life-changing.
Translated by Charlie Louth