Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Somedays you eat the bar, and others, well...

To love is good, too: love being difficult. For one human being to love another:
that is perhaps the most difficult of all out tasks, the ultimate, the last test and
proof, the work for which all other work is but preparation. For this reason young
people, who are beginners in everything, cannot yet know love: they have to
learn it. With their whole being, with all their forces, gathered close about
their lonely, timid, upward-beating heart, they must learn to love. But learning
time is always a long, secluded time, and so loving, for a long while ahead and
far into life, is solitude, intensified and deepened loneness for him who loves.

Love is at first not anything that means merging, giving over and uniting with
another (for what would a union be of something unclarified and unfinished,
still subordinate?), it is a high inducement to the individual to ripen, to become
world, to become world for himself for another's sake. It is a great exacting claim
upon him, something that chooses him out and calls him to vast things. Only in
this sense, as the task of working at themselves ("to hearken and to hammer day
and night"), might young people use the love that is given them. Merging and
surrendering and every kind of communion is not for them (who must save and
gather for along, long time still), is the ultimate, is perhaps that for which
human lives as yet scarcely suffice.

Whoever looks seriously at it finds that neither for death, which is difficult,
nor for difficult love has any explanation, any solution, any hint of way yet
been discerned; and for these two problems that we carry wrapped up and
hand on without opening, it will not be possible to discover any general rule
resting in agreement. But in the same measure in which we begin as individuals
to put life to the test, we shall, being individuals, meet these great things at
closer range. The demands which the difficult work of love makes upon our
development are more than life-size, and as beginners we are not up to them.
But if we nevertheless hold out and take this love upon us as burden and
apprenticeship, instead of losing ourselves in all the light and frivolous play,
behind which people have hidden from the most earnest earnestness of their
existence - then a little progress and alleviation will perhaps be perceptible
to those who come long after us; that would be much.

Rainer Maria Rilke

from Letters to a Young Poet

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