The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge is Rilke’s only novel. He wrote it while living in Paris as a young writer. It contains autobiographical content and was inspired in part by the expressionistic movement.
From Book One
Who has the courage all in the night yourself to be this stillness for that which is afraid and perishing with fear. You strike a light, and already the noise is you. And you hold the light before you and say: It is I; don’t be afraid. And you put it down, slowly, and there is no doubt: it is you; you are the light around these familiar intimate things, that are there without afterthought, good, simple, unambiguous. And when there is restlessness somewhere in the wall, or a step on the floor: you only smile, smile, smile transparent against a light background into the fearsome face that looks searchingly at you, as if you were one and in the secret with every half-sound, in concert and agreement with it. Does any power equal your power among the rulers of the earth? See, kings lie and stare, and the teller of tales cannot distract them. On the blissful breasts of their favorite mistress terror creeps over them and makes them shaky and lifeless. But you, you come and hold the monstrous thing behind you, and are in front of it altogether; not like a curtain it can throw open here or there. No, as if you had overtaken it at the call that needed you. As if you had come far ahead of anything that may yet happen, and had behind you only your hasting hither, your eternal path, the flight of your love.
There is only one path trodden. Only one real path.
It should be yours. You only have to remember it.
Over loose, weather worn rocks, mud, and ancient roots,
Upward, toward the silvery spires. They are always there, sometimes lost in clouds, dark and nebulous.
They did not crumble in your youth. Still they stand majestic.
Climb. Despite precipice and peril.
Climb and remember.