Rainer Maria Rilke on the Art of Being Alone.

Solitude vs. Loneliness?

Psychology Today tries to establish the difference between these two synonymous Arts of Being Alone:

“Loneliness is a negative state, marked by a sense of isolation. One feels that something is missing. It is possible to be with people and still feel lonely—perhaps the most bitter form of loneliness.


Solitude is the state of being alone without being lonely. It is a positive and constructive state of engagement with oneself. Solitude is desirable, a state of being alone where you provide yourself wonderful and sufficient company.”


Loneliness then, could count as a feeling, while solitude transcends the feeling-only state and reaches deeper into the architecture of the soul and, if fully embraced, serves as a confirmation of the individual’s eternal and sufficient nature.

But life is complicated and our hearts are polyglots. We speak more than one language, sometimes, simultaneously. So what to do when our solitude and our loneliness decide to join each other, and be together in the aloneness?

Well, we call a poet. (Handwritten letters preferred.) And perhaps there is no better one at soothing our postmodern angst and teaching us the difficult mastery of solitude than Rainer Maria Rilke.

{Rainer Maria Rilke}

And this is what he writes back:

“Therefore, dear Sir, love your solitude and try to sing out with the pain it causes you. For those who are near you are far away… and this shows that the space around you is beginning to grow vast.


Be happy about your growth, in which of course you can’t take anyone with you, and be gentle with those who stay behind; be confident and calm in front of them and don’t torment them with your doubts and don’t frighten them with your faith or joy, which they wouldn’t be able to comprehend.


Seek out some simple and true feeling of what you have in common with them, which doesn’t necessarily have to alter when you yourself change again and again; when you see them, love life in a form that is not your own and be indulgent toward those who are growing old, who are afraid of the aloneness that you trust.


And don’t expect any understanding; but believe in a love that is being stored up for you like an inheritance, and have faith that in this love there is a strength and a blessing so large that you can travel as far as you wish without having to step outside it.”

~ Letters to a Young Poet.



More on the Art of Being Alone. 

>> How to Recycle a Compostable Heart.

>> “I love you in secret, between the shadow and the soul.”




{Love your solitude.}



 *P.S. Sign up for my Museletter: FREE creative resources, soulful life tips and game-changing inspiration. 

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Andrea Balt
Co-Founder/Editor-in-Chief of Rebelle Society, Wellness Alchemist at Rebelle Wellness & Professional Dream Chaser at Creative Rehab. Unfinished book with a love for greens, bikes and poetry; raised by wolves & adopted by people; not trying to make art but to Be Art. Holds a BA in Journalism & Mass Communication, an MFA in Creative Writing & a Holistic Health Coach degree from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition®. In her work she tries to reflect the wholeness of the human experience by combining Art & Health + Mind & Body + Darkness & Brilliance into a more alive, unabridged and unlimited edition of ourselves. She is also on a quest to reinstate Creativity as one of our essential Human Rights to (hopefully and soon) be included in the UN Declaration. Connect with her in the Social Media Jungle via Facebook, Twitter & Instagram and sign up for her FREE MuseLetter.


  • Sheila Jaillet
    sheila commented on October 25, 2012 Reply
    I recently pulled “Letters to a Young Poet” off the shelf, a gift from a friend to my much younger writing self about 15 years ago. So good! I have also been thinking about this dual condition: how truly, we are utterly alone, no one knowing us to our depths, and yet we are all completely one and the same too. Neither condition a burden, both a blessing.
    • Andrea Balt
      Andrea Balt commented on December 5, 2012 Reply
      A constant paradox in everything we do, aren’t we?
  • Tanya Lee Markul
    tanya lee markul commented on October 25, 2012 Reply
    Oh darling — RMR — one of my all time faves. Loved this. Beautifully written.
  • Kristi Stout
    satorirose commented on October 25, 2012 Reply
    LOVE this…I’m going to go buy this book today. <3
  • Tania Kazi
    taniakazi commented on October 26, 2012 Reply
  • David Clarke commented on December 5, 2012 Reply
    I recently discovered this page, some wonderful insights , and validation (should it be required) of thoughts, this is beautifully put,
  • Andrea Balt
    Andrea Balt commented on December 5, 2012 Reply
    Rilke is one of those poets that speak the most aching truths in a direct yet soothing, by-pass way, straight into the aorta and before you know it you’re hooked. Glad this resonated with so many of us, lonely planets.
    • Lily commented on June 22, 2014 Reply
      I love how Rainer Maria Rilke suggests to ‘love the questions themselves.’ These handful of words have helped me so much.
  • Lyfe powers commented on August 19, 2013 Reply
    ‘Loneliness is a word used to describe the terror of being alone. Solitude is a word used to describe the glory of being alone.”–Ester Morgensen. Solitude literally means the Study of the Soul.
  • Christy Schuerch commented on August 19, 2013 Reply
    This was my letter from God on 8/17/13. “Loneliness is Love. It is the heart reaching out to the world of form, saying, I exist, I love and I want. It is an important part of being human. Perhaps the most important part. You are never alone, you are always lonely. This is the wonder and beauty of the human form.”
  • EcoGrrl commented on October 10, 2013 Reply
    I was once told that the word “alone” came from two words “all one”. That’s what I remind myself of when I am down on myself instead of embracing the solitude.
    • jools commented on November 3, 2013 Reply
      nice x
    • jamesfreidman commented on February 3, 2014 Reply
      that’s fucking gay
    • Rhodes Fox-Smith commented on March 27, 2014 Reply
      Lol same XD sometimes i get really down as well and i’m gonna think about this next time lol XD thanks wuv you
  • Luisa Lù Pasqualini commented on November 3, 2013 Reply
    I love poets..and my solitude :) Gracias Andrea.
  • LeAnna commented on December 2, 2013 Reply
    • Paul Salem commented on March 27, 2014 Reply
      shut up
  • Nellia commented on December 2, 2013 Reply
    This is beautiful interpretation by him. I feel strongly about his expression and even more grateful for you Andrea to bring it out in public. Thank you. “The National” has a song “green gloves”, it is not ENTIRELY the same, but i recommend, the connection may be obvious)
  • Ken Chawkin commented on September 19, 2014 Reply
    Reminds me of this beautiful poem, Love after Love, by Nobel Laureate Derek Walcott, where, when you finally accept your own aloneness, you discover, acknowledge, and love yourself for the first time. http://wp.me/pD0BA-8yQ
  • Arnold Drenth commented on January 3, 2015 Reply
    Ah, the old ones are so often teh best. That’s why they’re classic. Thanks for the reminder.

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