Letters to a Young Poet Short Essay - Answer Key

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1. What does Rilke mean when, in the first letter, he suggests that critical commentary on art results in "happy misunderstandings"?

When Rilke says in the first letter that critical commentary on art results in "happy misunderstandings," he is referring to the fact that art is, as he says "inexpressible," and therefore cannot be analyzed and picked apart.

2. What does Rilke claim is more permanent than human life?

In the first letter, Rilke claims that art "endures," suggesting that art lives on past its creator to speak to future generations.

3. What does Rilke mean when he tells the young poet in the first letter that the poet's work has "no individual style"?

When Rilke tells the young poet in the first letter that the poet's work has "no individual style," he means that the poet's work lacks genuine individualized feelings on the part of the young poet.

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