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The Selected Poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke

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Parallel German text and English translation. The influence and popularity of Rilke’s poetry in America have never been greater than they are today, more than fifty years after his death. Rilke is unquestionably the most significant and compelling poet of romantic transformation, of spiritual quest, that the twentieth century has known. His poems of ecstatic identification Parallel German text and English translation. The influence and popularity of Rilke’s poetry in America have never been greater than they are today, more than fifty years after his death. Rilke is unquestionably the most significant and compelling poet of romantic transformation, of spiritual quest, that the twentieth century has known. His poems of ecstatic identification with the world exert a seemingly endless fascination for contemporary readers. In Stephen Mitchell’s versions, many readers feel that they have discovered an English rendering that captures the lyric intensity, fluency, and reach of Rilke’s poetry more accurately and convincingly than has ever been done before. Mr. Mitchell is impeccable in his adherence to Rilke’s text, to his formal music, and to the complexity of his thoughts; at the same time, his work has authority and power as poetry in its own right. Few translators of any poet have arrived at the delicate balance of fidelity and originality that Mr. Mitchell has brought off with seeming effortlessness. Originally published: New York : Random House, 1982.


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Parallel German text and English translation. The influence and popularity of Rilke’s poetry in America have never been greater than they are today, more than fifty years after his death. Rilke is unquestionably the most significant and compelling poet of romantic transformation, of spiritual quest, that the twentieth century has known. His poems of ecstatic identification Parallel German text and English translation. The influence and popularity of Rilke’s poetry in America have never been greater than they are today, more than fifty years after his death. Rilke is unquestionably the most significant and compelling poet of romantic transformation, of spiritual quest, that the twentieth century has known. His poems of ecstatic identification with the world exert a seemingly endless fascination for contemporary readers. In Stephen Mitchell’s versions, many readers feel that they have discovered an English rendering that captures the lyric intensity, fluency, and reach of Rilke’s poetry more accurately and convincingly than has ever been done before. Mr. Mitchell is impeccable in his adherence to Rilke’s text, to his formal music, and to the complexity of his thoughts; at the same time, his work has authority and power as poetry in its own right. Few translators of any poet have arrived at the delicate balance of fidelity and originality that Mr. Mitchell has brought off with seeming effortlessness. Originally published: New York : Random House, 1982.

30 review for The Selected Poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke

  1. 4 out of 5

    Gaurav

    Rainer Maria Rilke, the eternal beginner, had troublesome childhood, his birth had been preceded by that of a daughter, who had died in infancy, and his mother apparently tried to console herself for this loss by pretending, so long as she possibly could, that Rene (his original name) was a girl. The early prose tales, he wrote, were more subjective and naturalistic and often reveal, despite some grotesque lapses of taste, that he had a remarkably keen eye for the individuality of people and thi Rainer Maria Rilke, the eternal beginner, had troublesome childhood, his birth had been preceded by that of a daughter, who had died in infancy, and his mother apparently tried to console herself for this loss by pretending, so long as she possibly could, that Rene (his original name) was a girl. The early prose tales, he wrote, were more subjective and naturalistic and often reveal, despite some grotesque lapses of taste, that he had a remarkably keen eye for the individuality of people and things. As J.B. Leishman says that art as a discovery and revelation of the mystery and wonder of life, poets, and artists as the true revealers and, in a sense, creators, of God- this was the conviction, or intuition, into which Rilke escaped from the narrow Catholicism of his early years, and this was the characteristically modified manner in which he accepted that Nietzschean life-worship, insistence on this worldliness and rejection of other-worldliness. The main task of his later life was to correct his overwhelming tendency to subjectivity, reverie, and rhapsody by developing his capacity for objectivity, to find more and more in outwardness, in actually existent things, and to ensure that every poem, however personal, should be not just an utterance but a processed work of art, became more and more task of his life. He was tremendously impressed by the exhibition of Cezanne and called him as a ‘worker’ and ‘masterer of reality’. He developed an altogether new kind of objectivity from the paintings of Cezanne and perhaps later in New poems he achieved a wonderful balance between objectivity and subjectivity, inwardness and outwardness. The entire span of Rilke’s existence may be said as his strive for unification between his art and his life. Behind the innocent trees Behind the innocent trees old Fate is slowly forming her taciturn face Wrinkles travel thither Here a bird screams and there a furrow of pain shoots from the hard sooth-saying mouth Oh and the almost lovers with their unvaledictory smiles- their destiny setting and rising above them constellational night-enraptured Not yet proffering itself to their experience it still remains hovering in heaven's paths an airy form. The collection has around 70 odd poems by Rilke, each of those was intended to be, and usually is, as independent and self-sufficient as any painting, statue, building, while though, some are purely descriptive and suggest nothing beyond themselves, others are in various ways representative or symbolic. The poetry of Rilke is celebration of creative energy which is he is aware of, and which is present in himself. One may think that his poems are ode to God but in essence, those verses are directed towards himself, the self-consciousness which he named as ‘God’. His poetry reflects his incessant insistence for understanding existence of human life, a miscellany of being and nothingness, though not typically religious but, in a sense, inspired from it. The notion of a poet one who just waited for the coming of poetic moods in which he could write ‘poetically’ about ‘poetic’ subjects became more and more distasteful to him. His genius lies in his passion for perfection, artistic integrity and ‘willingness to remain a perpetual beginner.’ He never achieved perpetual satisfaction at whatever stage of achievement he might have been, and perhaps this great dissatisfaction prompted him to keep evolving himself, his verses, as eventually his poems become his visions about existential angst of human beings, though very refined ones, questioning the abstract problems of life. However, one may be tempted to look for philosophical ideas in his verses, only to one’s disappointment; his poetry is in no sense the exposition of anything like a systematic philosophy rather an attempt to communicate, sometimes separately, sometimes in combination, some of Rilke’s most intense, individual experiences. The collection has first and ninth elegies from Dunio Eleges, which is perhaps the fullest and most ambitious attempt at an answer. The section has Rilke’s fullest expression of a gradually and painfully achieved intuition into the inseparability of uniqueness and transience: First Elegy Who, if I cried, would hear me among the angelic Orders? And even if one of them suddenly Pressed me against his heart, I should fade in the strength of his Stronger existence. For Beauty’s nothing But beginning of terror we’re still just able to bear, And why we adore it so is because it serenely Disdains to destroy us. Every angel is terrible. And so I repress myself, and swallow the call-note Of depth-dark sobbing. Alas, who is there We can make use of? Not angels, not men; And even the noticing beasts are aware That we don’t feel very securely at home In this interpreted world. The Ninth Elegy Why, when this span of life might be fleeted away As laurel, a little darker than all The surrounding green, with tiny waves on the border Of every leaf (like the smile of a wind):- oh, why have to be human, and shunning Destiny, Long for Destiny?... Not because happiness really Exists, that precipitate profit of imminent loss. Not out of curiosity, not just to practice heart, That could still there in laurel… But because being here is much, and because all this That’s here, so fleeting, seems to require us and strangely Concerns us. Us the most fleeting of all. Just once, Everything, only for once. Once and no more. And we, too, Once. And never again, But this Having been once, though once, Having been omce on earth- can it ever be cancelled? Sonnets to Orpheus could be said as something extraordinary, not achieved by Rilke earlier, a lifting, not indeed of the mystery but of the burden of it; the achievement, as a reward for much patient endurance of silence, terror and perplexity, of the mood expressed in the beautiful verses. From The Sonnets to Orpheus: First Part XXIII Only when flight shall soar Not for its own sake only Up into heaven’s lonely Silence, and be no more Merely the lightly profiling, Proudly successful tool, Playmate of winds, beguiling Time there, careless and cool: Only when some pure Whither Outweighs boyish insistence On the achieved machine Will who has journeyed thither be, in that fading distance, All that his flight has been. The collection contains some of the best poems by Rilke across the years, there is a most subtle interplay between nature and artifice, formality and informality. Colloquial expressions are transfigured by the extreme precision and elegance of the verse in which they appear, and wonderfully natural speech-rhythms compel these verses to behave in a manner of which we might have supposed them to be incapable. The verses of Rilke seem to be a sort of deconstruction of the world around different expressions of human towards nature, his existential angst. The ever enigmatic themes of death, despair also play role in poetic expression of Rilke. One of things which distinguish his poetry was that Rilke expressed ideas with "physical rather than intellectual symbols unlike other modern greats. The poems are reflections of inner tensions of Rilke, as said by W.B. Yeats-We make out of the quarrel with others, rhetoric, but of the quarrel with ourselves, poetry. Form The Sonnets to Orpheus: Second Part IV This is the creature there has never been They never knew it, and yet, none the less, They loved the way it moved, its suppleness, Its neck, its very gaze, mild and serene. Not there, because they loved it, it behaved As though it were. They always left some space. And in that clear unpeopled space they saved It lightly reared its head, with scare a trace Of not being there. They fed it, not with corn, But only with the possibility Of being. And that was able to confer Such strength, its brow pit forth a horn. One horn. Whitely it stole up to a maid, -to be Within silver mirror and in her. Autumn The leaves are falling, falling as from far, as though above were withering farthest gardens; they fall with a denying attitude. And night by night, down into solitude, the heavy earth falls far from every star. We are falling. The hand's falling too- all have this falling-sickness none withstands. And yet there's One whose gently-holding hands this universal falling can't fall through As Holroyd concluded, the poetry which Rilke wrote to express and extend his experience . . . is one of the most successful attempts a modern man has made to orientate himself within his chaotic world. *edited on 14.11.17

  2. 5 out of 5

    Darwin8u

    “Yet, no matter how deeply I go down into myself, my God is dark, and like a webbing made of a hundred roots that drink in silence.” ― Rainer Maria Rilke, The Selected Poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke Rainer Maria Rilke seems to stretch his words from the dirt to the stars with his poems. His verse is my favorite kind of poetry. He is wrestling with angels, looking for the THING, peeling back the skin on tangerines while counting the seeds. This is both the poetry of my youth (I first read Rilke in H “Yet, no matter how deeply I go down into myself, my God is dark, and like a webbing made of a hundred roots that drink in silence.” ― Rainer Maria Rilke, The Selected Poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke Rainer Maria Rilke seems to stretch his words from the dirt to the stars with his poems. His verse is my favorite kind of poetry. He is wrestling with angels, looking for the THING, peeling back the skin on tangerines while counting the seeds. This is both the poetry of my youth (I first read Rilke in HS) and my maturity. Rilke dances in that void between love, sex and death and makes the gravity of it ALL work. I should also mention that I love Stephen Mitchell as a translator. I'm not sure exactly how many languages he reads, but his ability to turn German poetry into English poetry; his ability to turn Latin poetry into English poetry -- hell, it amazes me. Like Pinsky's translation of The Inferno of Dante, Rilke's 'Selectee Poetry' is one of those poet translations I believe is a must in a literate library.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Matt

    This is a book you might need years to prepare for. Rilke is complex, his images interweave and play off each other. I believe it has something to do with the penchant for puns and hyphenated, conjuncted words that German is prone to. "Archaic Torso Of Apollo" is one of the most powerful, moving pieces in all of 20th Century poetry. Rilke is light years beyond you, dear reader, as he is for 90% of all his readers. But he is accessible in small glimpses if you come correct with an open mind and re This is a book you might need years to prepare for. Rilke is complex, his images interweave and play off each other. I believe it has something to do with the penchant for puns and hyphenated, conjuncted words that German is prone to. "Archaic Torso Of Apollo" is one of the most powerful, moving pieces in all of 20th Century poetry. Rilke is light years beyond you, dear reader, as he is for 90% of all his readers. But he is accessible in small glimpses if you come correct with an open mind and reverence and inquisitiveness... "Who, if I were to cry out, would hear me among the angels' heirarchies?" Splendid. Elegant, aesthetic, cosmopoltian, skeptical, dense, rewarding, compelling. This would change your life, if only you had enough of one to change.

  4. 4 out of 5

    E. G.

    Introduction from The Book of Hours --34. 'The day is coming when from God the Tree' from The Book of Images --Childhood --Autumn Day --Autumn --Annunciation --The Spectator from New Poems: First Part --Joshua's Council --The Departure of the Prodigal Son --The Olive Garden --The Poet's Death --The Cathedral --The Panther --The Donor --Roman Sarcophagi --A Feminine Destiny --Going Blind --In a Foreign Park --Parting --The Courtesan --The Steps of the Orangery --The Merry-go-Round --Orpheus, Eurydice, Hermes from New Poem Introduction from The Book of Hours --34. 'The day is coming when from God the Tree' from The Book of Images --Childhood --Autumn Day --Autumn --Annunciation --The Spectator from New Poems: First Part --Joshua's Council --The Departure of the Prodigal Son --The Olive Garden --The Poet's Death --The Cathedral --The Panther --The Donor --Roman Sarcophagi --A Feminine Destiny --Going Blind --In a Foreign Park --Parting --The Courtesan --The Steps of the Orangery --The Merry-go-Round --Orpheus, Eurydice, Hermes from New Poems: Second Part --The Island of the Sirens --The Death of the Beloved --Adam --Eve --The Site of the Fire --The Group --Song of the Sea --The Parks, II --Late Autumn in Venice --Falconry --Portrait of a Lady of the Eighties --The Old Lady --The Stranger --The Abduction --The Bachelor --The Apple Orchard --The Dog from Requiem --For Wolf Graf von Kalckreuth from The Duino Elegies --The First Elegy --The Ninth Elegy from The Sonnets to Orpheus: First Part --VII. 'Praising, that's it! As a praiser and blesser' --IX. 'Only by him with whose lays' --XXIII. 'Only when flight shall soar' --XXVI. 'You that could sound till the end, though, immortal accorder' from The Sonnets to Orpheus: Second Part --IV. 'This is the creature there has never been' --X. 'Long will machinery menace the whole of our treasure' --XV. 'O fountain mouth, you mouth that can respond' --XVII. 'Where, in what ever-blissfully watered gardens upon what trees' from the Uncollected Poems of 1906 to 1926 --The Raising of Lazarus --The Spirit Ariel --'Shatter me, music, with rhythmical fury!' --'Behind the innocent trees' --The Great Night --'Beloved, lost to begin with, never greeted' --'Exposed on the heart's mountains. Look, how small there!' --'Time and again, however well we know the landscape of love' --To Music --From the Poems of Count C. W. --'Meaningful word, "inclination"!' --'Strongest star, not needing to await' --The Fruit --Early Spring --'Gods, for all we can tell, stride as richly bestowing' --'The sap is mounting back from that unseenness' --'On the sunny road, within the hollow' --'The one birds plunge through's not that trusty space' --For Count Karl Lanckoronski --Epitaph Notes on the Poems

  5. 5 out of 5

    Kim

    Many poets can distill their thoughts, observations, and feelings into poetry in a way that I could never accomplish, but I don't necessarily view them as wise human beings. They might have all sorts of other strengths, but deep interior wisdom is not what they give me. There are some poets, however, who take me to places that resonate so deeply and do it in language that I would never discover in myself. What they say is suffused with wisdom. Rilke is such a poet for me. Wisława Szymborska is a Many poets can distill their thoughts, observations, and feelings into poetry in a way that I could never accomplish, but I don't necessarily view them as wise human beings. They might have all sorts of other strengths, but deep interior wisdom is not what they give me. There are some poets, however, who take me to places that resonate so deeply and do it in language that I would never discover in myself. What they say is suffused with wisdom. Rilke is such a poet for me. Wisława Szymborska is another. Rilke's poems are so dense with imagery, feeling, and insight they require an on-going relationship and an evolving understanding. So for me this is not a book to read and set aside, but one to savor and turn to repeatedly over the years. Rilke created poems that span a space between the beauty and wonder of life and the recognition of death as an inevitable conclusion. Awareness of that conclusion makes everything more wondrous right now and Rilke is incredible at conveying observed details as well as evoking imagery that make you contemplate the world immediately around you. But the poems remind you that these things -- and ourselves -- are all more precious because they are fleeting. Another reviewer called his writing "vaporous." I think that's an adequate description. It's like they trigger awareness of that sense of transience in life, temporarily sustain the moment for you, and then disappear. But isn't that how insight is? There then gone? Then there again?

  6. 5 out of 5

    Geoff

    I have read many of the poems in this collection dozens of times, by a handful of different translators, and I never, ever tire of Rilke. No modern poet goes as far into himself, into "the invisible, unheard center", and returns with such gems, really revelations. Revelatory image succeeds revelatory image. Am I being a bit too grandiose? That's fine, I think Rilke is the greatest poet of the 20th century, and high praise is not praise enough. A pure writer. Mitchell's translations are gorgeous I have read many of the poems in this collection dozens of times, by a handful of different translators, and I never, ever tire of Rilke. No modern poet goes as far into himself, into "the invisible, unheard center", and returns with such gems, really revelations. Revelatory image succeeds revelatory image. Am I being a bit too grandiose? That's fine, I think Rilke is the greatest poet of the 20th century, and high praise is not praise enough. A pure writer. Mitchell's translations are gorgeous and this should be the edition that introduces the new reader to Rilke. Then read all his letters and the Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge. Then reread ad infinitum.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Yuval

    I'm not the world's biggest poetry buff, but Rilke's work is more like lyric philosophy, and the depth of ideas and richness of imagery is overwhelming. It's been way too long since reading these, and I've thoroughly loved the re-read over the last few weeks. Last time I read this, I did not speak German, so this is the first time I was able to assess Stephen Mitchell's translations of the poems from German. They are truly amazing; accurate, graceful, and lovely. I can't imagine any better. I'm not the world's biggest poetry buff, but Rilke's work is more like lyric philosophy, and the depth of ideas and richness of imagery is overwhelming. It's been way too long since reading these, and I've thoroughly loved the re-read over the last few weeks. Last time I read this, I did not speak German, so this is the first time I was able to assess Stephen Mitchell's translations of the poems from German. They are truly amazing; accurate, graceful, and lovely. I can't imagine any better.

  8. 4 out of 5

    David

    There are times in life when I feel as if I live in a parallel universe. You know the way it goes. The usual precipitating event - everyone else on the planet holds an opinion or belief that seems so outrageous and outlandish to me, we cannot be having the same experience. I've had this feeling all day today. My current sense of profound alienation was triggered by looking down the list of other people's ratings for this book, the Robert Bly "translation" of selected poems by Rilke. Four-star and There are times in life when I feel as if I live in a parallel universe. You know the way it goes. The usual precipitating event - everyone else on the planet holds an opinion or belief that seems so outrageous and outlandish to me, we cannot be having the same experience. I've had this feeling all day today. My current sense of profound alienation was triggered by looking down the list of other people's ratings for this book, the Robert Bly "translation" of selected poems by Rilke. Four-star and five-star ratings abound. OK. Maybe people are responding to the beauty of Rilke's poetry, filtered through the laughable effort at "translation" by Robert Bly. But no - several people single out the translation for particular praise! Did these people read the same book I did? This is the most abysmal "translation" of Rilke's work, indeed of anyone's work, I have ever had the misfortune to come across. It reads as if it were written by an imbecile, tone-deaf to the natural cadences of both German and English, whose grasp of German matches what one might expect of someone who had seen "The Sound of Music" as a youth. And possibly "Heidi". To give two concrete examples, compare Bly's butchering of two of Rilke's most famous poems with some other translations: http://gaelstat.com/translation.aspx (click on links to "Autumn Day" and "The Panther", respectively; a direct link to "Autumn Day" is below, but for some reason goodreads doesn't accept my efforts to provide a direct link to "The Panther") Autumn Day I've given specific examples in the first document of where I think Bly makes inexcusable choices - changing the poem's title, duplicating text in a way that ruins the metre, making avoidable changes in the meaning. I think just reading the various translations of "The Panther" should make it clear just how clunky Bly's effort is. A specific example is his translation of the line - "Der weiche Gang geschmeidig starker Schritte" as "The lithe swinging of that rhythmical easy stride" - it's awkward, and the metre of the original is completely mucked up. The book is filled with other examples of hopelessly clumsy language, brutalization of the metre, and - this seems most unforgivable - the imposition of unnecessary changes. For instance, in the section "The Voices", "Das Lied des Bettlers" is rendered as "The Song the Beggar Sings", and that superfluous "sings" makes its appearance in each title in this section. But Bly apparently feels no compunction about adding his own superfluous "improvements" to Rilke's original text. That this sometimes changes the meaning considerably doesn't seem to bother him. Combine this with what appears to be a tin ear for the normal rhythms of English, and you end up with the ghastly results in this sorry apology for a translation. Seriously. There are many fine translations of Rilke out there. Give this one a miss.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Connie G

    This volume includes seventy-nine original German poems of Rainer Maria Rilke with the English versions translated by Robert Bly. Bly also wrote helpful commentary introducing five parts of the book. Some of Rilke's earlier poems seem mystical or introspective. His "New Poems" are influenced by deep observation. Listening and praise are themes in his beautiful "Sonnets to Orpheus". I don't speak German so I can't vouch for the accuracy of the translations. One of my favorites was his poem about a This volume includes seventy-nine original German poems of Rainer Maria Rilke with the English versions translated by Robert Bly. Bly also wrote helpful commentary introducing five parts of the book. Some of Rilke's earlier poems seem mystical or introspective. His "New Poems" are influenced by deep observation. Listening and praise are themes in his beautiful "Sonnets to Orpheus". I don't speak German so I can't vouch for the accuracy of the translations. One of my favorites was his poem about a panther. Rilke was working as a secretary for the sculptor Rodin, and had not been writing lately. Rodin encouraged Rilke to go to the zoo, and look at an animal over several weeks until he could really see it. The Panther In the Jardin des Plantes, Paris From seeing the bars, his seeing is so exhausted that it no longer holds anything anymore. To him the world is bars, a hundred thousand bars, and behind the bars, nothing. The lithe swinging of that rhythmical easy stride which circles down to the tiniest hub is like a dance of energy around a point in which a great will stands stunned and numb. Only at times the curtains of the pupil rise without a sound . . . then a shape enters, slips through the tightened silence of the shoulders, reaches the heart, and dies.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Edita

    And we too, just once. And never again. But to have been this once, completely, even if only once: to have been at one with the earth, seems beyond undoing.

  11. 4 out of 5

    David

    Reading Rilke was long overdue (like Proust). So I sat down last night and read this book in one sitting. Some good, some forgettable and some very memorable (that needed to be read twice!). A mixed bag. Yet very worth it. The most memorable is this classic line pondering a Greek statue: “For very part of this commanding form Holds you in its gaze. Henceforth your life must change.” (Archaic Torso of Apollo, a mon grand Ami Augusta Rodin) His descriptiveness is full and wondrous: “Slowly the evening s Reading Rilke was long overdue (like Proust). So I sat down last night and read this book in one sitting. Some good, some forgettable and some very memorable (that needed to be read twice!). A mixed bag. Yet very worth it. The most memorable is this classic line pondering a Greek statue: “For very part of this commanding form Holds you in its gaze. Henceforth your life must change.” (Archaic Torso of Apollo, a mon grand Ami Augusta Rodin) His descriptiveness is full and wondrous: “Slowly the evening starts to change her raiments For veils held up by rows of distant trees. You watch how gradually the landscape’s contours change, Some rising heavenward as other downward fall.” (At Sundown) Rilke poderes death and it’s attributes like no other: “Death is immense. We all are his With laughing mouths. When we are in The midst of life He dares to weep Right in our midst.” (End Poem) Over his years he wrote on many themes but his sonnets on Orpheus stirred something in me. Quite elegant: “Erect no stone to his memory. Instead Let the rose bloom every year to honor him. For the rose is Orpheus! he appears in Various guises in his metamorphosis.” (Sonnets to Orpheus, Book 1, Number 5) Sometimes the imagery, like the Spanish dancer reminded me of a John Singer Sargent painting: https://collections.dma.org/artwork/3... “As in one’s hand a lighted match blinds you before It comes aflame and sends out brilliant flickering Tongues to every side — so, within the ring of the spectators, her dance begins in hasty, heated rhythms And spreads itself like darting flames around. And suddenly the dance is altogether flame!” (Spanish Dancer) But the epitome piece was the elegy of Picasso’s painting, “The Family of the Saltimbanques” which I saw in the National Gallery in Washington, DC. Originally it was owned (and dedicated) by Frau Hertha Koenig, and Rilke, who stayed at Koenig’s house for several months, was inspired to write about the characters. “Whoever are they, tell me, these wayfaring troupers, Even more transient than we ourselves,- so urgently, From earliest childhood, obsessed by a never-satisfied Will- To please whom? Yet it continues to wring them, bend them, Toss them, twist them, catch them and toss them again:- As though an oil-slippery air they descend and land On the threadbare carpet, worn thin by their endless leaping And tumbling, this carpet lost in space. Laid on like a plaster, As though the suburban sky had injured the earth.” (The Fifth Elegy) https://www.nga.gov/collection/highli... Standing in front of this large painting, I was mesmerized by this odd family. They are not inviting and the arrangement has an odd and challenging grouping. Who are they? Why is the woman off to the side? Has something happened? We will never know. An enigma painting. Strangely compelling. Rilke is correct, please tell us who are these wayfarers? Maybe that is a sign of his poetry. A little bit of an enigma. Freshly made or deeply forgotten? Words hover, then disappear. Light and yet ponderously gone. Obscurely open and vague; beautiful and evocative. Compassionate. Loyal. An indelible mark on your memory.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Katherine Cowley

    I first discovered Rilke earlier this month when one of my friends posted a snippet of his poetry for National Poetry Month. The lines entranced me, and I decided I wanted to read more. So I found this selection of his poetry and read it from start to finish. I loved the critical introduction by Robert Haas--it was a fascinating look at Rilke's life and poems, and helped me get a lot more out of my reading, by understanding the context. My impression of Rilke is that his poems describe the beaut I first discovered Rilke earlier this month when one of my friends posted a snippet of his poetry for National Poetry Month. The lines entranced me, and I decided I wanted to read more. So I found this selection of his poetry and read it from start to finish. I loved the critical introduction by Robert Haas--it was a fascinating look at Rilke's life and poems, and helped me get a lot more out of my reading, by understanding the context. My impression of Rilke is that his poems describe the beauty of loneliness, the meaning in emptiness, and the self-discovery in loss. In one of his requiems, Rilke writes: I have my dead, and I have let them go, and was amazed to see them so contented, so soon at home in being dead, so cheerful, so unlike their reputation. Only you return.... The brilliantly crafted ten elegies that make up Duino Elegies were incredibly sorrowful, bringing death close, but in some ways transcending death itself. In one of his sonnets to Orpheus, Rilke writes: Be ahead of all parting, as though it already were behind you, like the winter that has just gone by. One of my favorite poems is Rilke's first sonnet to Orpheus: A tree ascended there. Oh pure transcendence! Oh Orpheus sings! Oh tall tree in the ear! And all things hushed. Yet even in that silence a new beginning, beckoning, change appeared. Creatures of stillness crowded from the bright unbound forest, out of their lairs and nests; and it was not from any dullness, not from fear, that they were so quiet in themselves, but from simply listening. Bellow, roar, shriek seemed small inside their hearts. And where there had been just a makeshift hut to receive the music, a shelter nailed up out of their darkest longing, with an entryway that shuddered in the wind-- you built a temple deep inside their hearing. Reading Rilke makes me want to look, to see, to experience the world more deeply. It makes me want to stop running from my sorrows, and instead let myself experience them. Since I've never read Rilke before, I can't comment on this particular translation or edition in comparison to the others. This one does have the original German on the opposite page, for those who happen to read German (I do not). I need more poetry in my life. Reading Rilke has made that clear to me.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Matthew Ted

    122nd book of 2020. What you’ve heard about Rilke is true. These poems are more philosophy than poetry. I think poetry, on the whole, can be very philosophical, distilling a single moment, or single thought… Rilke captures this idea in its purest sense. It feels as if when we are reading his poetry, it is also looking back and reading us, like the final lines of Ted Hughes’ “Full Moon and Little Frieda”: The moon has stepped back like an artist gazing amazed at a work That points at him amazed. 122nd book of 2020. What you’ve heard about Rilke is true. These poems are more philosophy than poetry. I think poetry, on the whole, can be very philosophical, distilling a single moment, or single thought… Rilke captures this idea in its purest sense. It feels as if when we are reading his poetry, it is also looking back and reading us, like the final lines of Ted Hughes’ “Full Moon and Little Frieda”: The moon has stepped back like an artist gazing amazed at a work That points at him amazed. We are the moon, or else we are the child; but both are looking amazed. This book also contained “Duino Elegies” and “Sonnets to Orpheus”, which I will link here once I have written their separate unnumbered reviews, for more detail. But firstly for the rest of the poems, I will quote some examples of objects and nature through Rilke’s viewfinder, which blows everything up by 100 times, and somehow contains a whole world in them too: The opening stanza of “Palm of the Hand”: Hand’s interior. Sole that walks the surface only of feeling. Holds itself upward-facing, mirror receiving heavenly streets, themselves those wanderers. Who has learned the art of walking o water, Scooping, Who is a walker on wells and alterer of every way. Who steps into other hands, who can transform hands like it to landscape: wanders, arrives in them, fills them full with arrival. Stanza 2 of “The Flamingos”: she is still soft with sleep. They rise into green and stand, turned slightly on pink stems together, blooming as in a garden bed, seducing, more seductively than Phryne – It is hard to choose just one stanza from the brilliant, and slightly chilling, “Marionette Theatre”, so, though slightly fragmented, below are stanza 2 and 4. They have no articulations and hang a bit woodenly and on the skew in their harnesses, but they are capable equally and utterly of murder and of the limits of the dance, and most abject of bows, and further. Their faces, much too large for them, are once and for all; not like ours, but simpler, powerful and ideal; open, as though they start awake directly from a dream. And that, of course, tends to set off the outside laughter, screaming in from the benches, where onlookers watch the puppets as they injure and scare each other, and crumple under the pranks to bundles. For philosophical or metaphorical beauty, some examples now: Stanza 8 of “The Garden of Olives”: For angels do not come to those who pray, not so, or nights expand immense about them. Those who lose themselves are cut loose soon. Father leave them simply to their fate, and they are excluded from their mother’s womb. The final three lines of the long stanza 2 from “Requiem for a Friend”: In love there is just this for us to do: to let each other go; for holding on comes all too easily and takes no learning. From “Prayer”: I am so afraid of people’s words. Everything they pronounce is so clear: this is a hand, and that is a house, and beginning is here, and the end over there. And finally, the complete poem, “Solitude”, which is so hauntingly beautiful and heart-breaking, to finish my review: Solitude is like rain. It lifts from the sea to meet the coming evenings and from remote, outlying plains towards skies where it is held in constant store. And falls on cities from sky-reservoirs. Rains down in the hybrid half-lit hours when city lanes and alleys turn to morning and bodies slip apart in the sad disillusionment of finding nothing; and when human beings who hate each other are forced to sleep together in a bed: then, solitude runs with the rivers’ running…

  14. 4 out of 5

    saïd

    Robert Bly's version is a bilingual edition, which is a great boon; Bly's translation honestly leaves much to be desired. My rating and review are of the translation—Rainer Maria Rilke's original poetry would be five stars. Bly includes a series of previously uncollected poems written between 1908-1923 (detailing the trauma as a result of his experiences during WWI) but deliberately excludes the Elegies, probably Rilke's most famous works, which I found an immense disappointment. Bly does Rilke Robert Bly's version is a bilingual edition, which is a great boon; Bly's translation honestly leaves much to be desired. My rating and review are of the translation—Rainer Maria Rilke's original poetry would be five stars. Bly includes a series of previously uncollected poems written between 1908-1923 (detailing the trauma as a result of his experiences during WWI) but deliberately excludes the Elegies, probably Rilke's most famous works, which I found an immense disappointment. Bly does Rilke a great disservice in his translation. I will provide examples. In the poem "Der Panther," Bly translates:To him the world is bars, a hundred thousand bars, and behind the bars, nothing.from the original German:Ihm ist, als ob es tausend Stäbe gäbe und hinter tausend Stäben keine Welt."Tausend" means thousand; Bly, inexplicably, changes that to hundred thousand. "Keine Welt" does not mean nothing but rather no world. I'd (roughly!) translate these lines as:To him, it feels like there are a thousand bars, and behind the thousand bars, no world.There are other examples. Bly takes "Gesang ist Dasein" (singing is existing) and instead writes "To write poetry is to be alive." These are entirely different statements! Bly turns "Herbsttag" (autumn day) into October day, "Jubel-Baum" (jubilation tree) into oak tree of joy, "Das Lied des Bettlers" (the song of the beggar; the beggar's song) into the song the beggar sings, and so on. At times he changes the meaning altogether; at times he inserts his own liberal interpretation of Rilke's text. I don't know why Bly would elect to do this, particularly considering that anyone who can read German could easily look at the facing page and see how inaccurate the "translation" is. It's genuinely baffling to me. My personal recommendation for a translation of Rilke would be The Book of Fresh Beginnings: Selected Poems (trans. David Young). Various translations of "Der Panther" can be compared online. None of them are all that impressive from a translator's perspective, but maybe you'll appreciate them as poetry anyway.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Jimmy

    There are not enough stars on Goodreads for Rilke. I loved this book, which included a little sampler from each of his books, chronologically, except the Duino Elegies, which was here in its entirety. I read the Duino Elegies first and was hooked, but the others are almost as good. The Sonnets to Orpheus especially are great, and some of his stand alone poems. Also because this was roughly chronological, you can see his progression as a poet, and how he developed his ideas, themes, and writing. There are not enough stars on Goodreads for Rilke. I loved this book, which included a little sampler from each of his books, chronologically, except the Duino Elegies, which was here in its entirety. I read the Duino Elegies first and was hooked, but the others are almost as good. The Sonnets to Orpheus especially are great, and some of his stand alone poems. Also because this was roughly chronological, you can see his progression as a poet, and how he developed his ideas, themes, and writing. He's not one of those writers who repeats the same poem throughout his career. Every book here has a different flavor and feel to it, he seemed to be perpetually striving. Stephen Mitchell's translations are very satisfying. I've read a few other translations on the web, but none approached the ones in this book. If you read Rilke before in another translation, I urge you to give this one a try. In a bad translation, Rilke can seem overly dramatic, overly romantic, or just plain "icky". But rest assured, he is not. Here was my original review of Duino Elegies (on 9/16/2008): I just finished this. It's incredible. I can't believe I hadn't read this before. Poets don't write like this anymore. Who dares to tackle the enormity of these themes, the meaning of life, death, god, love, pain? All conveyed in sometimes concrete sometimes abstract language but always avoiding the easy conclusions. There are so many beautiful passages here where he just tips things slightly so that you see them askew & anew. Then in elegy 9 he almost sounds like Stevens, talking about thing-ness and language. Just a little taste, here's the opening of Eighth Elegy: With all its eyes the natural world looks out into the Open. Only our eyes are turned backward, and surround plant, animal, child like traps, as they emerge into their freedom. We know what is really out there only from the animal's gaze; for we take the very young child and force it around, so that it sees objects--not the Open, which is so deep in animals' faces. Free from death, We, only, can see death; the free animal has its decline in back of it, forever, and God in front, and when it moves, it moves already in eternity, like a fountain.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

    Who, if I cried out, would hear me among the angels' hierarchies? and even if one of them pressed me suddenly against his heart: I would be consumed in that overwhelming existence. For beauty is nothing but the beginning of terror, which we still are just able to endure, and we are so awed because it serenely distains to annihilate us. Every angel is terrifying. And so I hold myself back and swallow the call-note of my dark sobbing. Ah, whom can we ever turn to in our need? Not angels, not humans, and al Who, if I cried out, would hear me among the angels' hierarchies? and even if one of them pressed me suddenly against his heart: I would be consumed in that overwhelming existence. For beauty is nothing but the beginning of terror, which we still are just able to endure, and we are so awed because it serenely distains to annihilate us. Every angel is terrifying. And so I hold myself back and swallow the call-note of my dark sobbing. Ah, whom can we ever turn to in our need? Not angels, not humans, and already the knowing animals are aware that we are not really at home in our interpreted world. Perhaps there remains for us some tree on a hillside, which every day we can take into our vision; there remains for us yesterday's street and the loyalty of a habit so much at ease when it stayed with us that it moved in and never left. Oh and night: there is night, when a wind full of infinite space gnaws at our faces. Whom would it not remain for -- that longed-after mildly disillusioning presence, which the solitary heart so painfully meets. Is it any less difficult for lovers? But they keep on using each other to hide their own fate. Don't you know yet? Fling the emptiness out of your arms into the spaces we breathe; perhaps the birds will feel the expanded air with more passionte flying.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Anima

    The fourth elegy ‘O trees of life, O when are you wintering? We are not unified. We have no instincts like those of migratory birds. Useless, and late, we force ourselves, suddenly, onto the wind, and fall down to an indifferent lake. We realise flowering and fading together. And somewhere lions still roam. Never knowing, as long as they have their splendour, of any weakness.’ We Must Die Because We Have Known Them 'We must die because we have known them.' Die of their smile's unsayable flower. Die of their The fourth elegy ‘O trees of life, O when are you wintering? We are not unified. We have no instincts like those of migratory birds. Useless, and late, we force ourselves, suddenly, onto the wind, and fall down to an indifferent lake. We realise flowering and fading together. And somewhere lions still roam. Never knowing, as long as they have their splendour, of any weakness.’ We Must Die Because We Have Known Them 'We must die because we have known them.' Die of their smile's unsayable flower. Die of their delicate hands. Die of women. Let the young man sing of them, praise these death-bringers, when they move through his heart-space, high overhead. From his blossoming breast let him sing to them: unattainable! Ah, how distant they are. Over the peaks of his feeling, they float and pour down sweetly transfigured night into the abandoned valley of his arms. The wind of their rising rustles in the leaves of his body. His brooks run sparkling into the distance. But the grown man shudders and is silent. The man who has wandered pathless at night in the mountain-range of his feelings: is silent. As the old sailor is silent, and the terrors that he has endured play inside him as though in quivering cages.’

  18. 4 out of 5

    Miroku Nemeth

    Rilke's words spring from a compassion and nobility that plunges into the depths and rises to the heights of human experience. Spend time with this book. You will increase your humanity. Everywhere transience is plunging into the depth of Being....It is our task to imprint this temporary, perishable earth into ourselves so deeply, so painfully and passionately, that its essence can rise again, 'invisibly,' inside us. We are the bees of the invisible. We wildly collect the honey of the visible, to Rilke's words spring from a compassion and nobility that plunges into the depths and rises to the heights of human experience. Spend time with this book. You will increase your humanity. Everywhere transience is plunging into the depth of Being....It is our task to imprint this temporary, perishable earth into ourselves so deeply, so painfully and passionately, that its essence can rise again, 'invisibly,' inside us. We are the bees of the invisible. We wildly collect the honey of the visible, to store it in the great golden hive of the visible." (Rilke in a letter Witold Hulewicz, 1925). "For one human being to love another human being: that is perhaps the most difficult task that has been given to us, the ultimate, the final problem and proof, the work for which all other work is merely preparation....Love does not at first mean merging, surrendering, and uniting with another person...Rather, it is a high inducement for the individual to ripen, to become something in himself, to become world, to become world in himself for another's sake...." Rilke "The bird is a creature that has a very special feeling of trust in the external world, as if she knew that she is one with its deepest mystery. That is why she sings in it as if she were singing within her own depths; that is why we so easily receive a birdcall into our own depths; we seem to be translating it without residue into our emotion; indeed, it can for a moment turn the whole world into inner space, because we feel that the bird does not distinguish between her heart and the world's" Rilke "Letter to Lou Andreas-Salome" 1914) Angel!: If there were a place that we didn't know of, and there, on some unsayable carpet, lovers displayed what they never could bring to mastery here--the bold exploits of their high-flying hearts, their towers of pleasure, their ladders that have long since been standing where there was no ground, leaning just on each other, trembling,--and could master all this, before the surrounding spectators, the innumerable soundless dead; Would these, then, throw down their final, forever saved-up, forever hidden, unknown to us, eternally valid coins of happiness before the at last geniunely smiling pair on the gratified carpet? Rilke, Duino Elegies, the Fifth Elegy

  19. 4 out of 5

    Andy

    Anybody who tells you that Germans are a gruff, unromantic bunch never read Rilke. This is the most delicate, romantic poetry I've ever read. "If you are the dreamer, then I am the dream. But when you want to wake, I am your wish." Anybody who tells you that Germans are a gruff, unromantic bunch never read Rilke. This is the most delicate, romantic poetry I've ever read. "If you are the dreamer, then I am the dream. But when you want to wake, I am your wish."

  20. 4 out of 5

    Jenny (Reading Envy)

    It's National Poetry Month (April 2013) and I've been hoarding volumes of poetry all year in preparation. I've read Rilke before, and I'm still surprised at how sometimes a poem can start out with something mundane and end with greater emotional impact. Rilke is a master at this particular method. When I requested this volume from Paperbackswap.com, I didn't realize it was on cassette tape - luckily I still had an old stereo with a working tape deck lying around. The poems are read by the transl It's National Poetry Month (April 2013) and I've been hoarding volumes of poetry all year in preparation. I've read Rilke before, and I'm still surprised at how sometimes a poem can start out with something mundane and end with greater emotional impact. Rilke is a master at this particular method. When I requested this volume from Paperbackswap.com, I didn't realize it was on cassette tape - luckily I still had an old stereo with a working tape deck lying around. The poems are read by the translator, Stephen Mitchell. He did a decent job at the translating, although I didn't care as much for his performance. One entire side of one tape is Requiem for a Friend... not sure that's exactly a poem, more of a eulogy, but touching just the same. I can't fault Rilke for the format, but I think I'd rather read a larger volume, and in print where I can mull over the words more easily. Some bits that stuck out to me: From ORPHEUS. EURYDICE. HERMES "She was already loosened like long hair, poured out like fallen rain, shared like a limitless supply. She was already root." Requiem for a Friend includes the line "We need, in love, to practice only this: letting each other go. For holding on comes easily; we do not need to learn it." Read this one in its entirety - it is an example of moving from mundane to emotional impact - The Vast Night

  21. 5 out of 5

    Keith

    Rilke is truly incredible. his style is so vaporous- the images linger and cloud together, broken up by indefinite semicolons and dashes, and the final lines are like cold glass against the cheek. he's overwhelmingly receptive to beauty and intensity in the world; in letters, he wrote to a friend about the hours he spent watching deer at the zoo. i recognized a lot of romantic sublimity in his earlier poems, in the descriptions of potential in the animals' limbs and gazes, the latent power sugge Rilke is truly incredible. his style is so vaporous- the images linger and cloud together, broken up by indefinite semicolons and dashes, and the final lines are like cold glass against the cheek. he's overwhelmingly receptive to beauty and intensity in the world; in letters, he wrote to a friend about the hours he spent watching deer at the zoo. i recognized a lot of romantic sublimity in his earlier poems, in the descriptions of potential in the animals' limbs and gazes, the latent power suggested everywhere in nature. he's radically unlike any English-speaking poets that i've read, so much so that reading his poetry is like bedding someone who doesn't speak your native tongue, it's simultaneously very intimate and very alienating. you feel very close but you can barely communicate. he's so sincere, and his yearnings, untempered by self-consciousness, are painful to read. part pioneer, part shepherd, the androgynous Rilke is a wandering eye. stangely, he reminds me of lot of jeff mangum from neutral milk hotel.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Derrick Simerly

    Top tier writing poetry for me. I read it cover2cover, but I’ll never finish reading it.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Szplug

    Achingly beautiful German poetry from the arboreal mists of Central Europe. My German is pitiful and leaves me with no way of knowing how faithful Stephen Mitchell remained to his brilliant source, but I do know that his English renderings are lovely and sublime in and of themselves. Although the famous Duino Elegies, Requiem and Sonnets to Orpheus are ripe with concentrated genius, the entire compendium is a breathtaking achievement, my favorite poetry collection of recent years and, along with Achingly beautiful German poetry from the arboreal mists of Central Europe. My German is pitiful and leaves me with no way of knowing how faithful Stephen Mitchell remained to his brilliant source, but I do know that his English renderings are lovely and sublime in and of themselves. Although the famous Duino Elegies, Requiem and Sonnets to Orpheus are ripe with concentrated genius, the entire compendium is a breathtaking achievement, my favorite poetry collection of recent years and, along with Residence on Earth , the most thumbed book on my bedside shelves. Check out the lean, taut elegance of Mitchell's version of The Panther: His vision, from the constantly passing bars, has grown so weary that it cannot hold anything else. It seems to him there are a thousand bars; and behind the bars, no world. As he paces in cramped circles, over and over, the movement of his powerful soft strides is like a ritual dance around a center in which a mighty will stands paralyzed. Only at times, the curtain of the pupils lifts, quietly--. An image enters in, rushes down through the tensed, arrested muscles, plunges into the heart and is gone. It would be remiss of me to fail to include the consonantal, guttural Schönheit of Rilke's original German: Sein Blick ist vom Vorübergehn der Stäbe so müd geworden, dass er nichts mehr hält. Ihm ist, als ob es tausend Stäbe gäbe und hinter tausend Stäben keine Welt. Der weiche Gang geschmeidig starker Schritte, der sich im allerkleinsten Kreise dreht, ist wie ein Tanz von Kraft um eine Mitte, in der betäubt ein großer Wille steht. Nur manchmal schiebt der Vorhang der Pupille sich lautlos auf -. Dann geht ein Bild hinein, geht durch der Glieder angespannte Stille - und hört im Herzen auf zu sein.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Winston O'Toole

    Beautiful. "But because truly being here is so much. Because everything here apparently needs us, this fleeting world, which in some strange way keeps calling to us. Us, the most fleeting of all. Once for each thing. Just once; no more. And we too, just once. And never again. But to have been this once, completely, even if only once: to have been at one with the earth, seems beyond undoing." Beautiful. "But because truly being here is so much. Because everything here apparently needs us, this fleeting world, which in some strange way keeps calling to us. Us, the most fleeting of all. Once for each thing. Just once; no more. And we too, just once. And never again. But to have been this once, completely, even if only once: to have been at one with the earth, seems beyond undoing."

  25. 5 out of 5

    Tortla

    Honorary "dragons" shelving for being just that awesome. EDIT: Also, I think I've read all the poems and most of the extra stuff, but I'm not sure if I consider this as "read," yet. I think it's going to stay on the currently-reading shelf until I learn German and French so as to be able to read the pre-translated half (so it's quite possible that this book shall never be "read"). Seriously, Rilke has made me want to learn German and French so I can read his stuff in the original languages (and un Honorary "dragons" shelving for being just that awesome. EDIT: Also, I think I've read all the poems and most of the extra stuff, but I'm not sure if I consider this as "read," yet. I think it's going to stay on the currently-reading shelf until I learn German and French so as to be able to read the pre-translated half (so it's quite possible that this book shall never be "read"). Seriously, Rilke has made me want to learn German and French so I can read his stuff in the original languages (and understand it...I've read parts of the the French/German and been able to tell what some of the words were, but it'd be nice to understand them without their translations, since translated poetry probably loses a lot of its meaning). ...I'm feeling pretty pretentious. I think Rilke was a feminist. Case in point: "We are only just now beginning to consider the relation of one individual to a second individual objectively and without prejudice, and our attempts to live such relationships have no model before them. And yet in the changes brought about by time there are already many things that can help our timid novitiate. The girl and the woman, in their new, individual unfolding, will only in passing be imitators of male behavious and misbehaviour and repeaters of male professions. After the uncertainty of such transitions, it will become obvious that women were going through the abundance and variation of those (often ridiculous) disguises just so that they could purify their own essential nature and wash out the deforming influences of the other sex....This humanity of woman, carried in her womb through all her suffering and humiliation, will come to light when she has stripped off the conventions of mere femaleness in the transformations of her outward status, and those men who do not yet feel it approaching will be surprised and struck by it." -letter to Franz Xaver Kappus, May 14, 1904 I mean, his portrayal of females tends to be a little outdated, but this was the early 20th century, so I think he has every right to be outdated. I think it's pretty adorable how much he seems to admire women so much that he says things like "The breaking away of childhood / left you intact." (in Antistrophes). I also really like Palm. That poem's so sweet. re-EDIT: Okay nevermind about the keeping it on currently-reading indefinitely thing. It's read. I should re-read it, but still.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Mr.

    Du im Voraus Verlone Geliebte, Nimmergekimmene, Nicht weiss ich, welche Tone dir lieb sind. Nicht mehr versuch ich, dich, wenn das Kommenende wogt, Zu erkennen. Alle die grossen Bilder in mir, im Fernen erfahrene Landschaft, Stadte und Turme und Brucken und un- Vermutete Wedung der Wege Und das Gewaltige jener von Gottern Einst durchwachsenen Lander: Steigt zur Bedeutung in mir Deiner, Entgehende, an. You who never arrived In my arms, Beloved, who were lost From the start, I don't even know what Du im Voraus Verlone Geliebte, Nimmergekimmene, Nicht weiss ich, welche Tone dir lieb sind. Nicht mehr versuch ich, dich, wenn das Kommenende wogt, Zu erkennen. Alle die grossen Bilder in mir, im Fernen erfahrene Landschaft, Stadte und Turme und Brucken und un- Vermutete Wedung der Wege Und das Gewaltige jener von Gottern Einst durchwachsenen Lander: Steigt zur Bedeutung in mir Deiner, Entgehende, an. You who never arrived In my arms, Beloved, who were lost From the start, I don't even know what songs Would please you. I have given up trying To recognize you in the surging wave of the next Moment. All the immense images in me-the far-off, deeply-felt landscape, Cities, towers, and bridges, and un- Suspected turns in the path, And those powerful lands that were once Pulsing with the life of the gods- All rise within me to mean You, who forever elude me. This has been a passage from Rilke's `You who never arrived', one of the many beautiful and profound poems in this extraordinary collection, provided with an equally extraordinary translation by Stephen Mitchell. Rilke is almost universally established as the most important European poet of the 20th century. The poems in this collection will stay in your mind and in your heart long after you finish reading.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Julia

    I read this for the Book Riot Read Harder 2017 challenge - a collection of poetry in translation on a theme other than love. Poetry is not something I usually read. But the whole point of the challenge is to read outside your comfort zone. This book is a selection of poems by Rilke, translated by Robert Bly, with commentary by Bly. Truthfully, my favorite part of the book was Bly's commentary. He helped make sense of the poems. The poems were nice enough, but really didn't do anything for me. I r I read this for the Book Riot Read Harder 2017 challenge - a collection of poetry in translation on a theme other than love. Poetry is not something I usually read. But the whole point of the challenge is to read outside your comfort zone. This book is a selection of poems by Rilke, translated by Robert Bly, with commentary by Bly. Truthfully, my favorite part of the book was Bly's commentary. He helped make sense of the poems. The poems were nice enough, but really didn't do anything for me. I read slower than my usual pace, so that I could really understand the poems, but it didn't help. I feel like someone who enjoys poetry will like this book. It just wasn't for me.

  28. 5 out of 5

    George

    I enjoyed getting to know Ol Rainer through his poems, some long, many of them short. I can see why Gass appreciated the poet to the extent that he did. The best part of reading this was having the original German on the opposite page from the translation. It was a treat to see the original German and try to figure out the sentence structure, which I failed at miserably, but was very enlightening while trying to learn German myself. I want to get a copy of this to own.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Wiom biom

    I have mixed feelings towards this collection of poetry. I approached Rilke with all the baggage that anyone who knew something about him would have, especially if, like me, you had read his Letters to a Young Poet, which remains like the bible to many aspiring artists. I expected wisdom and lyricism in equal measure but unfortunately I was left disappointed. Unlike other poets whom I admire and whom I thoroughly enjoyed reading, like TS Eliot and Sylvia Plath, I did not find myself warming to R I have mixed feelings towards this collection of poetry. I approached Rilke with all the baggage that anyone who knew something about him would have, especially if, like me, you had read his Letters to a Young Poet, which remains like the bible to many aspiring artists. I expected wisdom and lyricism in equal measure but unfortunately I was left disappointed. Unlike other poets whom I admire and whom I thoroughly enjoyed reading, like TS Eliot and Sylvia Plath, I did not find myself warming to Rilke's voice. As a result, most of the poems fell flat. Off the top of my head, I can name but a couple which I think are worth rereading: 'Evening', 'The Blindman's Song', 'Palm', 'Before Summer Rain', 'You who never arrived', and of course, 'Archaic Torso of Apollo'. I begin to see a pattern. All of them are among his earlier works, if I'm not mistaken. The themes are a lot more universal and the poetic voice is still not overly self-conscious. Yet, already, in the first few poems, one is conscious of the continental philosophy and Rilke's highly personal spirituality simmering beneath. That the poems are translated from German to English definitely plays a part in widening the gulf between Rilke and the reader -- the all-encompassing 'Ding' is simply 'Thing' in English, a word that is virtually opposite in connotation to its German counterpart. The spirituality reaches suffocating saturation in Rilke's 'Duino Elegies', which are widely considered to be his masterpiece. But I simply could not enjoy them. The writing is just too suffused with esoteric symbols and metaphors. If you do not share Rilke's life philosophy, the elegies just lack universality. I have tried re-reading them in hopes of discovering something about them to love but in my opinion, they are remarkable only for their unique language and poetic voice. Perhaps I will give the elegies another shot in the future. Otherwise, Rilke is a relatively inaccessible poet, from the perspective of a 21st-century Singaporean reader.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Noel

    Transcendent. Rilke must have had angels whispering in his ears. Perhaps he was one, in an earlier life… * * * Who, if I cried out, would hear me among the angels’ hierarchies? and even if one of them pressed me suddenly against his heart: I would be consumed in that overwhelming existence. For beauty is nothing but the beginning of terror, which we are still just able to endure, and we are so awed because it serenely disdains to annihilate us. Every angel is terrifying. And so I hold myself back and swa Transcendent. Rilke must have had angels whispering in his ears. Perhaps he was one, in an earlier life… * * * Who, if I cried out, would hear me among the angels’ hierarchies? and even if one of them pressed me suddenly against his heart: I would be consumed in that overwhelming existence. For beauty is nothing but the beginning of terror, which we are still just able to endure, and we are so awed because it serenely disdains to annihilate us. Every angel is terrifying. And so I hold myself back and swallow the call-note of my dark sobbing. Ah, whom can we ever turn to in our need? Not angels, not humans, and already the knowing animals are aware that we are not really at home in our interpreted world. Perhaps there remains for us some tree on a hillside, which every day we can take into our vision; there remains for us yesterday’s street and the loyalty of a habit so much at ease when it stayed with us that it moved in and never left. Oh and night: there is night, when a wind full of infinite space gnaws at our faces. Whom would it not remain for—that longed-after, mildly disillusioning presence, which the solitary heart so painfully meets. Is it any less difficult for lovers? But they keep on using each other to hide their own fate. Don’t you know yet? Fling the emptiness out of your arms into the spaces we breathe; perhaps the birds will feel the expanded air with more passionate flying.

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