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Ahead of All Parting: The Selected Poetry and Prose

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The reputation of Rainer Maria Rilke has grown steadily since his death in 1926; today he is widely considered to be the greatest poet of the twentieth century. This Modern Library edition presents Stephen Mitchell’s acclaimed translations of Rilke, which have won praise for their re-creation of the poet’s rich formal music and depth of thought. “If Rilke had written in En The reputation of Rainer Maria Rilke has grown steadily since his death in 1926; today he is widely considered to be the greatest poet of the twentieth century. This Modern Library edition presents Stephen Mitchell’s acclaimed translations of Rilke, which have won praise for their re-creation of the poet’s rich formal music and depth of thought. “If Rilke had written in English,” Denis Donoghue wrote in The New York Times Book Review, “he would have written in this English.” Ahead of All Parting is an abundant selection of Rilke’s lifework. It contains representative poems from his early collections The Book of Hours and The Book of Pictures; many selections from the revolutionary New Poems, which drew inspiration from Rodin and Cezanne; the hitherto little-known “Requiem for a Friend”; and a generous selection of the late uncollected poems, which constitute some of his finest work. Included too are passages from Rilke’s influential novel, The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge, and nine of his brilliant uncollected prose pieces. Finally, the book presents the poet’s two greatest masterpieces in their entirety: the Duino Elegies and The Sonnets to Orpheus. “Rilke’s voice, with its extraordinary combination of formality, power, speed and lightness, can be heard in Mr. Mitchell’s versions more clearly than in any others,” said W. S. Merwin. “His work is masterful.”


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The reputation of Rainer Maria Rilke has grown steadily since his death in 1926; today he is widely considered to be the greatest poet of the twentieth century. This Modern Library edition presents Stephen Mitchell’s acclaimed translations of Rilke, which have won praise for their re-creation of the poet’s rich formal music and depth of thought. “If Rilke had written in En The reputation of Rainer Maria Rilke has grown steadily since his death in 1926; today he is widely considered to be the greatest poet of the twentieth century. This Modern Library edition presents Stephen Mitchell’s acclaimed translations of Rilke, which have won praise for their re-creation of the poet’s rich formal music and depth of thought. “If Rilke had written in English,” Denis Donoghue wrote in The New York Times Book Review, “he would have written in this English.” Ahead of All Parting is an abundant selection of Rilke’s lifework. It contains representative poems from his early collections The Book of Hours and The Book of Pictures; many selections from the revolutionary New Poems, which drew inspiration from Rodin and Cezanne; the hitherto little-known “Requiem for a Friend”; and a generous selection of the late uncollected poems, which constitute some of his finest work. Included too are passages from Rilke’s influential novel, The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge, and nine of his brilliant uncollected prose pieces. Finally, the book presents the poet’s two greatest masterpieces in their entirety: the Duino Elegies and The Sonnets to Orpheus. “Rilke’s voice, with its extraordinary combination of formality, power, speed and lightness, can be heard in Mr. Mitchell’s versions more clearly than in any others,” said W. S. Merwin. “His work is masterful.”

30 review for Ahead of All Parting: The Selected Poetry and Prose

  1. 4 out of 5

    Michel Schreiner

    Read before bed...it will give you beautiful dreams

  2. 4 out of 5

    Minoo

    At one point, I must have had every Rilke book that was translated into English. He is simply amazing. I ended up bequeathing the collection to a friend, who also felt the same about him. This book has been a wonderful companion and is always close at hand. I love the translations and the inter-paginated German and English. It has all of his major works, including Sonnets to Orpheus and The Duino Elegies. It also has plenty of poems, prose, and tons of great end-notes from his personal letters. At one point, I must have had every Rilke book that was translated into English. He is simply amazing. I ended up bequeathing the collection to a friend, who also felt the same about him. This book has been a wonderful companion and is always close at hand. I love the translations and the inter-paginated German and English. It has all of his major works, including Sonnets to Orpheus and The Duino Elegies. It also has plenty of poems, prose, and tons of great end-notes from his personal letters. If you want to get into the heart of Rilke, this book will get you beating to the rhythm. I live my life in widening rings which spread over earth and sky. I may not ever complete the last one, but that is what I will try. I circle around God, the primordial tower, and I circle ten thousand years long; and I still don't know if I'm a falcon, a storm, or an unfinished song.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Qurratulain

    This is honestly the best thing I have ever read. It took me forever to get through it because I kept stopping to highlight lines on every page. It's a masterpiece. A freaking masterpiece, I'm telling you. This is honestly the best thing I have ever read. It took me forever to get through it because I kept stopping to highlight lines on every page. It's a masterpiece. A freaking masterpiece, I'm telling you.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Dianna

    I dabbled a little in this book and was glad to be introduced to a poet I'd never heard of before. This edition features the original German (which I can't read) on the left, and the English translation on the right. I appreciate that the translation was not made to rhyme, as I feel that meaning is often lost when the translator prioritizes rhyme. Rilke writes on many topics, and I love that he'll take any subject and paint it in words. He even does his own self-portrait. My favorite part? Seeing I dabbled a little in this book and was glad to be introduced to a poet I'd never heard of before. This edition features the original German (which I can't read) on the left, and the English translation on the right. I appreciate that the translation was not made to rhyme, as I feel that meaning is often lost when the translator prioritizes rhyme. Rilke writes on many topics, and I love that he'll take any subject and paint it in words. He even does his own self-portrait. My favorite part? Seeing the word "skull" in the translation and realizing that in German it's "Totenkopf." I don't know German, but I was able to discern that "Totenkopf" means something down the lines of "death head," and it is my new favorite word.

  5. 5 out of 5

    John Pistelli

    Martin Heidegger's philosophical glosses in Poetry, Language, Thought —explanations that only redoubled the poetic mystery—sent me back to Rilke, or maybe sent me to Rilke for the first time. A theme in these essays over the years (first announced here), has been the question of what it means to read lyric poetry, if its verbal density even can be read in the way that a novel or play (or epic poem) can, and whether, moreover, this permanent elusiveness raises it above or lowers it beneath mod Martin Heidegger's philosophical glosses in Poetry, Language, Thought —explanations that only redoubled the poetic mystery—sent me back to Rilke, or maybe sent me to Rilke for the first time. A theme in these essays over the years (first announced here), has been the question of what it means to read lyric poetry, if its verbal density even can be read in the way that a novel or play (or epic poem) can, and whether, moreover, this permanent elusiveness raises it above or lowers it beneath modes like narrative and drama. So have I read Rilke? I bought Stephen Mitchell's translation and selection Ahead of All Parting when I was a teenager. (I was inspired to do so by a comic-book writer who observed in an interview that budding authors admire Hemingway because he makes serious literature look attainable, whereas, for example, Rilke—I'd never seen this name in print before or even knew how it was pronounced—sets an impossible standard.) I have been browsing in the book ever since, preferring the delicate and ironic early lyrics to the heavier philosophic masterworks, without ever quite feeling that I'd "read" it. Compounding the problem of lyric poetry per se is my ignorance of German. Epic and dramatic poems, like novels, translate; lyric poems, living as they do on words alone, not as much. With poems in the Romance languages, I can look with some comprehension, if not fluency, to the original words on the facing pages, but whatever Rilke achieves through sonic texture or the specific connotative and allusive potentials of German is beyond me, as is the accuracy of Mitchell's translation. Mitchell, however, does manage to convey a tone mixing wonder with authority, a perennial questioning with a handing down of wisdom—a sensibility that perhaps even in translation I can identify as Rilkean. Over the last few days, I've read or reread (a mix of both) the Duino Elegies and the Sonnets to Orpheus. I will at least gather below some impressions from the former, generally considered Rilke's masterpiece, completed as it was, after two decade-separated compositional fits of blazing inspiration that also produced the Sonnets to Orpheus, in modernism's annus mirabilis of 1922. The first line famously came to Rilke in 1912 on the battlements of Duino Castle— Dante was said to have written some lines of the Divine Comedy there—where he was a guest of Princess Marie von Thurn und Taxis. 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.In Ahead of All Parting, Mitchell ingeniously annotates the poems with explications from Rilke's voluminous correspondence—I'm reminded of a friend's anecdote about a philosophy seminar whose method was to explain any given passage of Kant with another quotation from Kant—and Rilke duly explains, in a 1925 letter to his Polish translator,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 invisible. […] The angel of the Elegies is that creature in whom the transformation of the visible into the invisible, which we are accomplishing, already appears in its completion…The angel, then, is an image of future humanity, a humanity that has redeemed itself and its earth by transfiguring natural transience into the permanence of art—what Rilke's fellow modernist occultist poet Yeats called "the artifice of eternity." Many modern ideas draw together here. Concepts we tend to segregate as belonging to different domains and different ideologies show themselves intimate in the figure of Rilke's angel: not only aestheticism's severance of art from life, its insistence that the beautiful is in its essence "against nature," but also the relocation of Platonic or Christian transcendence into the immanent, as we find it in Hegel and Marx, the consummation of the historical process in an apocalyptic final this-worldly birth of a "new man." But Rilke's angel, like Benjamin's, is a somber modernist messenger, not so confident in 19th-century ideals of merely temporal and material progress, as the Seventh Elegy, with its intimations of Heidegger, discloses:Nowhere, Beloved, will the world be but within us. Our life passes in transformation. And the external shrinks into less and less. Where once an enduring house was, now a cerebral structure crosses our path, completely belonging to the realm of concepts, as though it still stood in the brain. Our age has built itself vast reservoirs of power, formless as the straining energy that it wrests from the earth. Temples are no longer known. It is we who secretly save up these extravagances of the heart. Where one of them still survives, a Thing that was formerly prayed to, worshipped, knelt before— just as it is, it passes into the invisible world. Many no longer perceive it, yet miss the chance to build it insidethemselves now, with pillars and statues: greater.Technology travesties art: it is a human artifice that battens on nature and drives out the material monuments of human culture. Yet technology serves art, too, by exiling culture deeper and deeper inside ourselves to be reborn as spirit. Cultural conservatives nowhere seem more persuasive to me than when they lament the decline of architecture, yet I've often thought that with the spread of literacy and mass communications, material public infrastructure has less need to be beautiful since we all carry a cathedral now in our heads. The Elegies' "thesis" reaches its climax in the Ninth, where Rilke elaborates at length the "mission" to pay attention to the world enjoined in the First Elegy: Perhaps we are here in order to say: house, bridge, fountain, gate, pitcher, fruit-tree, window— at most: column, tower… But to say them, you must understand, oh to say them more intensely than the Things themselves ever dreamed of existing. […] Here is the time for the sayable, here is its homeland. Speak and bear witness. […] Praise this world to the angel, not the unsayable one, you can’t impress him with glorious emotion; in the universe where he feels more powerfully, you are a novice. So show him something simple which, formed over generations, lives as our own, near our hand and within our gaze. Tell him of Things.Despite the magnificent command ringing in our ears ("Speak and bear witness") we might notice some incongruities. (If it's not ambiguous, is it really poetry?) First, if the angel, as we've already established, was once ourselves and therefore has himself already transformed the visible into the invisible, then what need has he to hear of our "Things"? Hasn't he heard of them and, as it were, vaporized them already? Does our poet concede some fault in the invisible world, some angelic deficit, in the commissioning of the poet to work with worldly materials only?But a tower was great, wasn't it? Oh Angel, it was— even when placed beside you? Chartres was great—, and music reached still higher and passed far beyond us. But even a woman in love—, oh alone at night by her window… didn't she reach your knee—?Which brings us to our second incongruity, this one performative: hasn't our poet spent almost the entirety of the Elegies at the verge of the unsayable, just as inspiration struck him on "the dreadful summit of the cliff / That beetles o'er his base into the sea"? We've heard a great deal more about angels and other invisibilia than about the things of this world. The incongruities are incongruous, then, even with one another: the poet prefers earth to heaven in theory but sings of heaven and not earth in practice. My point isn't to catch Rilke in a contradiction, like a journalist hounding a politician, but rather to show where his poem is most insightful in demonstrating, in enacting, modern humanity's contradictory desires—to revolutionizes ourselves beyond recognition and to repose in the customs and enchantments of the everyday. Mitchell quotes a letter where Rilke refers to the Divine Comedy as Dante's "gigantically evasive poem," yet perhaps the pre-modern poet shows more wisdom than the modern one when it doesn't even occur to him that the sacred and the profane could be synthesized without remainder. (I am modern too. Dante's wisdom is as unavailable to me as it is to Rilke; like most moderns I can only read the Purgatorio with any comfort. But the possibility that someone before Hegel might have understood something, should, if we are not terminally arrogant, be borne in mind.) The Duino Elegies, anyway, aren't all thesis and theology. The central poem, written last, was inspired by Picasso's great painting, Famille de saltimbanques. Rilke pressed another heiress to let him write it in her room where the painting was housed, and it was worth it, for he poignantly conjures Picasso's acrobats ("wanderers, more transient than we ourselves") as figures for all human exile over the mysterious earth, from tumbling boy to expiring elder. As well as Picasso, the Fifth Elegy also draws on Kleist's Platonic dialogue "On the Marionette Theater." For Rilke as for his doomed Romantic precursor, in the inner theater of the psyche, the marionette performs more angelically than any human dancer or acrobat can because the puppet in its total thingliness is already wholly spirit, free of the human organism and its crippling self-consciousness. Better even than the puppets are the animals and other natural creatures (including children) of the Eighth Elegy. Unlike ourselves, they live within life instead of before it; they exist without the watching and objectification that characterizes world-conquering man who imprisons himself in his own frail creations: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. […] And we: spectators, always, everywhere, turned toward the world of objects, never outward. It fills us. We arrange it. It breaks down. We rearrange it, then break down ourselves.If the angel has transcended the visible to live in the invisible, the animal has no need to, since the animal was blessedly born before, not after, mundane human consciousness. Rilke, finally, reflects on men and women. He often mentions lovers as potential secular examples of people who live transfigured lives, yet he is also skeptical of how lovers make idols of one another to evade the "mission": "they keep on using each other," he complains, "to hide their own fate." Perhaps a primordial incompatibility between man and woman, a division that redounds to neither's credit, compounds the problem. The Third Elegy is about mothers and sons. Rilke charges the mother with cosseting the boy in a fantasy of false comforts, even as the child himself wanders through his own interior to find the barbarian horde of his warrior forebears. Women represent feeble art, men ignorant courage, and the union of man and woman—whether in the maternal dyad or the conjugal embrace—can only therefore be a fallen version of the androgynous poetry Rilke composes to urge us on, artistically and heroically, toward the angelic eschaton. That's if I understand him, and I wouldn't swear that I do. I understand the Sonnets to Orpheus even less, but there is one line that stands out to me in the fifth sonnet: "And it is in overstepping that he obeys." Rilke's God, like Goethe's and Hegel's, will save neither the good person nor the person who understands perfectly, but only the poet, "ahead of all parting," "dead in Eurydice" and therefore a permanent voice immanent in unfolding nature—Orpheus, poet, considered as a name for anyone who dares.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Amelia

    My mother used to read me Rilke’s poems before I went to bed, and now whenever I read his work, I am reminded of those moments we shared. His work is beautiful, and even as I child, I loved to listen to his words. They sounded, and still sound, like magic to my ears. I highly suggest reading his poems before bed; they’re like lullabies.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Bekki

    This is the first book in my life that I read cover to cover twice in a row, and there is still more depth to explore. I read every line, let it sink into my mind and arouse emotion fully. I believe this is called surrender. Rilke is a very obvious existentialist. There is a fundamental quality to his writing and to his topics that make each metaphor matter. Beware - he does not think of angels in the Christian sense, nor does he speak of God in the Christian sense. However I felt I was able to e This is the first book in my life that I read cover to cover twice in a row, and there is still more depth to explore. I read every line, let it sink into my mind and arouse emotion fully. I believe this is called surrender. Rilke is a very obvious existentialist. There is a fundamental quality to his writing and to his topics that make each metaphor matter. Beware - he does not think of angels in the Christian sense, nor does he speak of God in the Christian sense. However I felt I was able to explore the concepts in spirituality he presents because I knew that he was not assuming the reader knows the definitions of the words he uses.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Ann Michael

    This is Stephen Mitchell's translation. I wish I could read the original. So far, I prefer Mitchell's translations to others I have read. I especially liked the prose translations. I'd like to hear other thoughts re: whose translations of Rilke are "best" and why. This is Stephen Mitchell's translation. I wish I could read the original. So far, I prefer Mitchell's translations to others I have read. I especially liked the prose translations. I'd like to hear other thoughts re: whose translations of Rilke are "best" and why.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Lexie

    This is one of my desert-island books ... I first encountered Rilke in 1984 ... He is my poet of poets ... and Stephen Mitchell's translations are unsurpassed. This is one of my desert-island books ... I first encountered Rilke in 1984 ... He is my poet of poets ... and Stephen Mitchell's translations are unsurpassed.

  10. 4 out of 5

    viola

    one day i'll have this entire thing memorized. one day i'll have this entire thing memorized.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Friedrick

    If you read no other selection of Rilke's poetry, read this one. The selection is comprehensive, and Mitchell's translations are outstanding. If you read no other selection of Rilke's poetry, read this one. The selection is comprehensive, and Mitchell's translations are outstanding.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Danielle

    Didn't enjoy it as much as I thought I would. Didn't enjoy it as much as I thought I would.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Abby

    Beautiful and pure. Rilke is like glass. (Also v. fond of cats and elegies.)

  14. 4 out of 5

    Mike Futcher

    A very fine collection of poetry from the modern master Rainer Maria Rilke. I was a bit worried that I would not enjoy it, because I didn't much like translator Stephen Mitchell's selection of Pablo Neruda's poetry in Full Woman, Fleshly Apple, Hot Moon. In that Neruda collection, Mitchell explicitly states he chose his personal favourites and the book lacks comprehensiveness, as well as Mitchell's lines lacking the silver that I found in other translations. Happily, such criticisms could not be A very fine collection of poetry from the modern master Rainer Maria Rilke. I was a bit worried that I would not enjoy it, because I didn't much like translator Stephen Mitchell's selection of Pablo Neruda's poetry in Full Woman, Fleshly Apple, Hot Moon. In that Neruda collection, Mitchell explicitly states he chose his personal favourites and the book lacks comprehensiveness, as well as Mitchell's lines lacking the silver that I found in other translations. Happily, such criticisms could not be launched at Mitchell here: not only are his translations gorgeous at times, but the book does achieve comprehensiveness. The inclusion of the entirety of the Duino Elegies and The Sonnets to Orpheus is particularly welcome, and there are parts of the latter book which now rank as some of my favourite poems. Rilke tackles some of the most pressing existential and philosophical questions of our time, not least the all-important search for meaning in a material world, and he does so in a way that is both complex (in structure) and simple (in the formulation of the words). This must surely be deliberate, for the observations he makes often suggest that the answers to such daunting, complex questions can sometimes be found in the simplest, clearest ways of thinking. At first, I found some of the 'god' stuff rather unappealing, but particularly in The Sonnets to Orpheus, Rilke is evidently looking for an expansive spiritual connection to something which is unknown, rather than seeking the stricture of narrow religious dogma. This is evident in his book Letters to a Young Poet (not included here, but it is highly recommended) and, here, it is expressed most beautifully in Sonnets XXIV – XXVI of the First Part of The Sonnets to Orpheus, a mini cycle-within-a-cycle which captures the conflicting emotions – bursting vitality and directionless worry – of a progressing society which is coming to the realization that its gods are dead. Rilke speaks to our age.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Alismcg

    "Be ahead of all parting, as though it already were behind you, like the winter that has just gone by. For among these winters there is one so endlessly winter that only by wintering through it will your heart survive." "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 gold "Be ahead of all parting, as though it already were behind you, like the winter that has just gone by. For among these winters there is one so endlessly winter that only by wintering through it will your heart survive." "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 invisible...this work, the work of the continual conversion of the beloved visible and tangible world into the invisible vibrations and agitation of our own nature..." I think what impacted me most lept out at me from Rilke's prose ( "The Notebooks of Malte..." ) and - as with any 'selections' volume - one will be given only a taste of these ❤️ passages: "in my depths I know that submission leads further than rebellion; it shames that which is usurpation, and it contributes indescribably to the glorification of the rightful power. The rebel pulls himself out from the attraction of one center of power, and he may perhaps succeed in escaping from its field; but beyond it he finds himself in the void and has to look around for another gravitational force to draw him in. And this one is generally even less legitimate than the first. Why not then see in the power we live in, the greatest power of all, unperturbed by its weaknesses and fluctuations? Somewhere the arbitrary will of itself collide against the law, and we save energy if we leave it to convert itself."

  16. 5 out of 5

    David

    In some ways this book is beyond writing about for me at the moment. It is profoundly and transcendently beautiful and heavy. Some of the best writing on grief, love, art, and our yearning for and often futile grasping at the beyond. I've perused many translations of Rilke's poetry, and there are other approaches I also enjoy, but Stephen Mitchell's work here stands above them, for me. The others feel too smooth. Here there is beauty but also the testing and folding and stretching of language aim In some ways this book is beyond writing about for me at the moment. It is profoundly and transcendently beautiful and heavy. Some of the best writing on grief, love, art, and our yearning for and often futile grasping at the beyond. I've perused many translations of Rilke's poetry, and there are other approaches I also enjoy, but Stephen Mitchell's work here stands above them, for me. The others feel too smooth. Here there is beauty but also the testing and folding and stretching of language aimed at something that must almost by definition remain beyond and ungraspable. This collection (as stated in the title) also includes some prose work by Rilke, which I read last because it seemed less urgent to me... but then upon reading it found it to be, again, profound, beautiful, and challenging. (All the poetry is presented in bilingual form on facing pages. The prose includes only the English translation.)

  17. 4 out of 5

    Josilyn

    (poetry part only) I was only interested in reading the poetry, and I was struck by the depth of Rilke's thoughts and the eloquence of his words, even in translation. I read this because I'm interested in reading his "Book of Hours", which I will definitely be acquiring soon. (poetry part only) I was only interested in reading the poetry, and I was struck by the depth of Rilke's thoughts and the eloquence of his words, even in translation. I read this because I'm interested in reading his "Book of Hours", which I will definitely be acquiring soon.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Lulua

    Beautiful wordplay, although I wish Rilke's poems had themes I could relate to. Beautiful wordplay, although I wish Rilke's poems had themes I could relate to.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Roger

    No rating on this. I acknowledge Rilke's beautiful words and writing, but as a whole it just wasn't for me. No rating on this. I acknowledge Rilke's beautiful words and writing, but as a whole it just wasn't for me.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Possum Paderau

    I need to stop adding poetry to my list on the basis of one line I saw on tumblr. I'm almost certain these poems are better in German but they were a little flat and repetitive in English. I need to stop adding poetry to my list on the basis of one line I saw on tumblr. I'm almost certain these poems are better in German but they were a little flat and repetitive in English.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Kajah

    Simply the most compelling poetry I've come across thus far. Alongside each translation is the original poem in German, which is quite satisfying to read, even if just for the rhythm and timbre. Steven Mitchell, as always, presents what seems like a sensitive and confident translation. While I don't speak German, the unique power of most of these poems seem so particular to a individual's creative flair. Even if the overwhelmingly positve reviews of Mitchell's translation are wrong, and the tran Simply the most compelling poetry I've come across thus far. Alongside each translation is the original poem in German, which is quite satisfying to read, even if just for the rhythm and timbre. Steven Mitchell, as always, presents what seems like a sensitive and confident translation. While I don't speak German, the unique power of most of these poems seem so particular to a individual's creative flair. Even if the overwhelmingly positve reviews of Mitchell's translation are wrong, and the translations are not reflective of Rilke's original work, then Mitchell must have transcended the German originals.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Em

    "Yes, the springtime were in need of you. Often a star waited for you to espy it and sense its light. A wave rolled toward you out of the distant past, or as you walked below an open window, a violin gave itself to your hearing. All this was trust. But could you manage it? Were you not always distraught by expectation, as if all this were announcing the arrival of a beloved? (Where would you find a place to hide her, with all your great strange thoughts coming and going and often staying for the night?)" "Yes, the springtime were in need of you. Often a star waited for you to espy it and sense its light. A wave rolled toward you out of the distant past, or as you walked below an open window, a violin gave itself to your hearing. All this was trust. But could you manage it? Were you not always distraught by expectation, as if all this were announcing the arrival of a beloved? (Where would you find a place to hide her, with all your great strange thoughts coming and going and often staying for the night?)"

  23. 5 out of 5

    Sophie Fletcher

    This translation of Rilke is first class and the selection of writing unparalleled. It has all the classics as well as lesser known fragments and prose - it gives a rare glimpse into the breath of Rilke's work. There are still some poems where the translation doesn't quite capture the original meaning, however that will always be the case and because it's dual text, you can read both the German and the English. I love always dipping into it and finding something new. One of my favourite books wi This translation of Rilke is first class and the selection of writing unparalleled. It has all the classics as well as lesser known fragments and prose - it gives a rare glimpse into the breath of Rilke's work. There are still some poems where the translation doesn't quite capture the original meaning, however that will always be the case and because it's dual text, you can read both the German and the English. I love always dipping into it and finding something new. One of my favourite books without a doubt and if you are interested in reading Rilke this is definitely the book to buy.

  24. 5 out of 5

    James Henderson

    A beautiful selection of Rilke's poetry and prose that highlights his masterpieces, "Duino Elegies" and "The Sonnets to Orpheus". The translations by Stephen Mitchell are excellent and the breadth of selections provides the reader with an overview of Rilke's entire life's work. This is an essential collection of some of the greatest poetry of the twentieth century. I return again and again to these poems and to "The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge". A beautiful selection of Rilke's poetry and prose that highlights his masterpieces, "Duino Elegies" and "The Sonnets to Orpheus". The translations by Stephen Mitchell are excellent and the breadth of selections provides the reader with an overview of Rilke's entire life's work. This is an essential collection of some of the greatest poetry of the twentieth century. I return again and again to these poems and to "The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge".

  25. 4 out of 5

    Logan

    3.5 stars The poetry was good---nothing amazing to my ears---but what really made this stand out was the prose. The selected short stories (around halfway through the book) are what makes this collection; each one is gorgeous and amazing in their own right. I wish there existed some collection of only Rilke's prose, but this'll do for now, and I'm very happy for having read it. 3.5 stars The poetry was good---nothing amazing to my ears---but what really made this stand out was the prose. The selected short stories (around halfway through the book) are what makes this collection; each one is gorgeous and amazing in their own right. I wish there existed some collection of only Rilke's prose, but this'll do for now, and I'm very happy for having read it.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Victor

    Lovestruck poetry at its finest. Admonishingly adorned with prescient, melancholy observation transmogrified into solemnly amorous combinations of symbols; Rilke's poetry and prose is sad, intelligent and, a common result of the partnership of those two qualities, beautiful. Lovestruck poetry at its finest. Admonishingly adorned with prescient, melancholy observation transmogrified into solemnly amorous combinations of symbols; Rilke's poetry and prose is sad, intelligent and, a common result of the partnership of those two qualities, beautiful.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Cai

    Beautiful Beautiful Beautiful Rilke makes my mind feel full while I puzzle out meanings and emotions and connections that change with every line I read. One day I'm learning German just to read it without translation. Beautiful Beautiful Beautiful Rilke makes my mind feel full while I puzzle out meanings and emotions and connections that change with every line I read. One day I'm learning German just to read it without translation.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Patrick Bock

    Desert island book. Beautiful, thoughtful, this man is a genius.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Laren

    translated by stephen mitchell... best translations of rilke

  30. 4 out of 5

    Beth

    this man saved my life in 1999. love him. haven't read this yet but knowing it has been in my collection has been more than a comfort even still. love him. bedtime reading this man saved my life in 1999. love him. haven't read this yet but knowing it has been in my collection has been more than a comfort even still. love him. bedtime reading

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