In letter 7 what is the central theme? And what would be three main ideas supporting the theme?

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ansleyclark eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One of the central themes in Rilke's seventh letter is the intrinsically intertwined nature of love and solitude.

First, Rilke tells his young poet friend that while it's normal to want to struggle against solitude and to not feel alone or lonely anymore, one should hang on to one's solitude and listen closely to what it can teach us about ourselves. Rilke writes, "it is good to be solitary, for solitude is difficult; that something is difficult must be a reason the more for us to do it." 

Second, Rilke says that while love and solitude may seem to be opposites, they actually are not. Even though it might seem like being in love with someone is the opposite of solitude, the act of loving someone requires a lot of solitude. This is because loving someone is difficult and requires a lot of growth. Rilke writes, "learning-time is always a long, secluded time, and so loving, for a long while ahead and far on into life, is--solitude, intensified and deepened loneness for him who loves."

Third, Rilke says that if we understand that love and solitude are deeply connected because both require a lot of work and self-reflection, we can better understand love. He tells us that "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...then a little progress and alleviation will perhaps be perceptible to those who come long after us; that would be much." Thus, if we can approach love as though it requires the same amount of work that solitude does, we can better understand one another and ourselves, and perhaps spread this understanding and love to others.

Read the study guide:
Letters to a Young Poet

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