* an ongoing series of quotations – mostly from artists, to artists – that offers wisdom, inspiration, and advice for the sometimes lonely road we are on.
What one writes at twenty-one is a cry, does one think of a cry that it ought to have been cried differently? The language is still so thin about one in these years, the cry pierces through and just takes along what is left clinging to it. The development will always be this, that one makes one’s language fuller, thicker, firmer (heavier), and of course there is sense in that only for one who is sure that the the cry too is growing in him ceaselessly, irresistibly, so that later, under the pressure of countless atmospheres, it will issue evenly from every pore of the almost impenetrable medium…
Talent, you understand, scarcely has significance any more in our day, since a certain dexterity of expression has become general, where is it not? Hence succeeding still means something only where the highest, utmost is achieved, and then one is again liable to think that just this unsurpassable something, once it appears in person, is in itself successful.
And so there is no real ground for concern, only that we want never to remain behind our heart and never to be in advance of it: that is probably needful. Thus we arrive at everything, each at what is his.
Jane Bannard Greene and M.D. Herter Norton editors, Letters of Rainer Maria Rilke 1910 – 1926
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