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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

    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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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?

  4. 4 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.

  5. 4 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 5 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 4 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.

  13. 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.

  14. 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.’

  15. 5 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

  16. 5 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."

  17. 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

  18. 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.

  19. 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.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Derrick Simerly

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

  21. 5 out of 5

    Celeste

    I’ve been reading a collection of poetry each month this year, and I knew early on that I wanted a collection of Rilke’s to be one of my selections. I had never read a single poem of his, but I love the What Should I Read Next? Podcast with Anne Bogel, and she ends every episode with a quote from him: “Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading.” Because I’ve heard his name and this quote so many times, I thought that his work would be a good bet for me. I wasn’t wrong. Though I was r I’ve been reading a collection of poetry each month this year, and I knew early on that I wanted a collection of Rilke’s to be one of my selections. I had never read a single poem of his, but I love the What Should I Read Next? Podcast with Anne Bogel, and she ends every episode with a quote from him: “Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading.” Because I’ve heard his name and this quote so many times, I thought that his work would be a good bet for me. I wasn’t wrong. Though I was reading a translation, instead of the original German in which he wrote, I found Rilke’s poetry to be lovely. For the most part, Rilke’s work came across as wonderfully tangible, even when philosophizing and probing into the metaphysical. Something about his poetry, even in translation, feels solid and real where it could easily have come across hazy or ephemeral. I think this has to do in large part with the timelessness of his style. His verses felt classical, nearly ancient in their construction, but in the best way possible. I could easily see him being a favored and studied poet in some novel of dark academia, and yet I could also see certain lines being quoted from the pulpit during a church service. His writing is romantic without being saccharine, and thoughtful while still feeling grounded. Upon further observation, I believe that one of the main reasons his work feels so solid is due to its structure. Even via translation, there’s a firm structure to almost every poem and verse in the majority of this collection. It never feels rigid, but it seems to keep the thoughts corralled in such a way that I never lost track of them. All of his ideas and musings felt securely supported by the structuring. And I could always sense the meter without fail in that same majority, which helped keep me focussed. That’s a huge accomplishment for a work of poetry, or for a translation, but especially for a combination of the two. I really liked the songs from the perspectives of different people, i.e. the blind man, the drunkard, the dwarf, etc. I also loved the verse representing different animals. He also writes beautifully about music periodically in the collection. But I truly loved the poems inspired by and retelling various classical pieces of mythology. This of course added to my view of Rilke being classical and timeless in tone. I did, however, feel like the collection weakened as it progressed. The back half didn’t have nearly the resonance of the first half, though I think this is a common danger with such large collections of poetry encompassing a poet’s life versus a shorter, chapbook-like offering that they compiled themselves regarding a particular theme or style or moment in their writing lives. Overall though, this was a lovely, thoughtful collection that I’m very happy to have added to my shelf.

  22. 4 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.

  23. 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.

  24. 4 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. 4 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.

  26. 4 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

    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.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Holly

    I can't comment on the accuracy of this translation of Rilke poetry by Stephen Mitchell or how it compares to others but the English translations alone are beautiful. It contains a selective yet wide sampling of Rilke's many works, making it a good introduction to the poet. After reading many of the poems I've been inspired to seek out both the Book of Hours and his Letters to a Young Poet. My favorite poem at the moment comes from the former: [I am, O Anxious One] I am, O Anxious One. Don't you h I can't comment on the accuracy of this translation of Rilke poetry by Stephen Mitchell or how it compares to others but the English translations alone are beautiful. It contains a selective yet wide sampling of Rilke's many works, making it a good introduction to the poet. After reading many of the poems I've been inspired to seek out both the Book of Hours and his Letters to a Young Poet. My favorite poem at the moment comes from the former: [I am, O Anxious One] I am, O Anxious One. Don't you hear my voice surging forth with all my earthly feelings? They yearn so high, that they have sprouted wings and whitely fly in circles round your face. My soul, dressed in silence, rises up and stands alone before you: can't you see? don't you know that my prayer is growing ripe upon your vision as upon a tree? If you are the dreamer, I am what you dream. But when you want to wake, I am your wish, and I grow strong with all magnificence and turn myself into a star's vast silence above the strange and distant city, Time. And from the latter: "...remember that life has not forgotten you; it holds you in its hand and will not let you fall."

  29. 4 out of 5

    Scarlett

    I see that there's a lot of talk concerning the quality of the translations of these poems. I am not sure I am one to decide whether the translation was good or not because 1. I do not know German; 2. this was my first Rilke, so I am not sure how he is supposed to sound. In any case, one of the things that I admired greatly about his poetry was his sense of rhythm. These poems are definitely meant to be read aloud so you can easily feel their musicality (I admit that I had to re read some lots of I see that there's a lot of talk concerning the quality of the translations of these poems. I am not sure I am one to decide whether the translation was good or not because 1. I do not know German; 2. this was my first Rilke, so I am not sure how he is supposed to sound. In any case, one of the things that I admired greatly about his poetry was his sense of rhythm. These poems are definitely meant to be read aloud so you can easily feel their musicality (I admit that I had to re read some lots of times to find the appropriate way of reading them). My favorites are definitely the selection of elegies (Duino Elegies, next I'm coming for you) and basically all the poems that where more philosophical or existential in themes. I also loved the power of his imagery, for example in Autumn Day, such a simple concept becomes such a gorgeous reading.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Wordsmith

    POEMS by Rainier Maria Rilke 5 stars ☆☆☆☆☆ and numerous lyrical notes ♪♪♪♪♪♪( ´θ`)ノ (OK, so I love this man! Does it "show?") “The only way I know to describe the beauty of Rilke's poetry is to say it this way: Imagine God Himself or His choir invisible or a Seraphim Angel breathing soft, ohhh, with such pure divine tranquility, akin to a whispered, mellifluous lullaby, with all the transcendence that IS the sublime Word Painter Rilke, being sung directly into your heart, indeed, to the deepest cor POEMS by Rainier Maria Rilke 5 stars ☆☆☆☆☆ and numerous lyrical notes ♪♪♪♪♪♪( ´θ`)ノ (OK, so I love this man! Does it "show?") “The only way I know to describe the beauty of Rilke's poetry is to say it this way: Imagine God Himself or His choir invisible or a Seraphim Angel breathing soft, ohhh, with such pure divine tranquility, akin to a whispered, mellifluous lullaby, with all the transcendence that IS the sublime Word Painter Rilke, being sung directly into your heart, indeed, to the deepest corner of your soul. There is no other Poet like Rainier Maria Rilke. Any person who ever loved a sentence should read at least one compilation of this divinely guided prose master's genius and feel this heart song for your own pleasure. Highly, Highly Recommended.”

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