Drawn by some sympathetic not in one of his poems, young people often wrote to Rilke with their problems and hopes.
This classic of sincerity and deepness, if you never got 'round to reading it, is composed of 10 letters written by one of the century's greatest poets to a young poet-admirer. Rilke offers no advice on technique but plenty on attitude and preparation for the poetic calling. Each short entry is preceded by an epigraph taken from the body of the letter. Here's an example of Rilke's general epistolary tone: "Beware of general themes. Cling to those that your everyday life offers you. Write about your sorrows, your wishes, your passing thoughts, your belief in anything beautiful. Describe all that with fervent, quiet, and humble sincerity." In this age of Irony and Cynicism it just may be time to revisit Earnestness in this small, handsome volume fit for wandering and pondering. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)