Duino Elegies/The Sonnets of Orpheus

ISBN: 0618565892
ISBN 13: 9780618565894
By: Rainer Maria Rilke A. Poulin Jr. Mark Doty

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About this book

Rilke is one of the most widely read poets of the 20th century. In his poetry, Rilke addresses the problems of death, God, and "destructive time," and attempts to overcome and transform these problems into an indestructive inner world.

Reader's Thoughts

Matthew Mitchell

These poems had a huge impact on me in college. Finally, poems about life! "...animals already know by instinct that we are not comfortably at home in our translated world."


şaire haksızlık etmek istemem ama çeviriler bence şiir kitapları için yetersiz kalıyor. yanlış anlaşılmasın çevirmenin de burda bir hatası olduğunu düşünmüyorum. fakat ne kadar okursam okuyayım şiirdeki ahengi bütünde bulamıyorum. ben de ahenkli bulduğum satırlarla yetinmeye çalışıyorum. Böyle saklamak istiyorum seni, kendini aynaya koyduğu gibi, en içine ve her şeyden uzağa. Rilke


I loved the First Elegy, but everything afterward annoyed the hell out of me. Taken one phrase at a time, a lot of what Rilke has to say is interesting, and he does seem to have a way with words (if the translation is anywhere close to the original German), but the little frightened mama's boy that starts to emerge is a very unattractive figure, and seen in that light his intellectual exercises seem like hollow replacements for real living. Maybe I just wasn't getting it. It seems like every time I think I've found a poet I like who lived later than 18th century, I get frustrated with either their pointless obscurantism which barely conceals the fact that they're actually writing about nothing at all, or I find them dreadfully, embarrassingly earnest. I would accuse Rilke of both.

christopher leibow

An OK translation of the Elegies, but an excellent translation of the Sonnets. It you know the Elegies you have to read the Sonnets, you will not be disappointed.

Justin Evans

Probably the most infuriating book of poetry I've ever read, perhaps will ever read. The highs and lows are so dizzyingly high and so mind-numbingly, banally low that I couldn't always keep pace. The first and tenth elegies were high, the other elegies interesting and beautiful, if you can stomach the whole whiney little boy thing he falls into occasionally, and his affection for idiot-metaphysics ('Sein Aufgang ist Dasein' and so forth). Many of the sonnets, however, are appalling. Once Rilke ditches the generally critical stance of the elegies (complaints on injustice, suffering etc...) the idiot-metaphysics becomes overwhelming: "Be - and at the same time know the implication of non-being... to nature's whole supply of speechless, dumb, and also used up things, the unspeakable sums,rejoicing, add yourself and nullify the count." Not to say there aren't great sonnets in there too, but my overall impression was one of disgust at this wonderful poet - what's more human than poetry? - wanting to become an object, thrilling in a mysticism of death. Add this to the apparent desire for a god to save us from the injustice and suffering so perfectly evoked in the elegies (uh... couldn't we save ourselves?), and my brain explodes. Because the whole thing is so beautiful, and at once so horrible, that there's nothing else for my brain to do.


Both of these books are translations, but try to get the translations from Edward Snow. Ellen Bass told me he is one of the very best translators for Rilke.


Loved the Elegies, thought the Sonnets were a bit...uneven maybe? But still, oh, but still."Let yourself peal among the beamsof dark belfries."—from "Sonnet 29"


I'm not sure how I made it this long without reading and Rilke, but after reading Gravity's Rainbow I felt compelled, finally, to read the poems that so influenced Pynchon. The Duino Elegies are really amazing, even in translation.

Mish Middelmann

Rilke's poetry touches my deepest soul. So intense that it works best for me when I am in my most extreme states (no matter whether joy, anger, grief or fear). Lyrical, questing, stretching well beyond this life.


I consider myself an avid Rilke fan, and this was surprisingly my least favorite of his work, considering how highly celebrated the Duino Elegies are. It had its moments of course, but the works in Uncollected Poems speak much more to me than these Elegies or Sonnets.

Jeffrey W.

Pretty uneven, but there are moments of greatness.

Stevie Lynne

so FUCKING good. like, SO fucking good. like he built a universe out of nothing. read the stephen mitchell translation-- not the one that's shown in this image.


Kadangi su poezija nelabai sutariu, t.y. nelabai ją „pagaunu“, negaliu tvirtinti, kad iš tiesų perskaičiau... tiksliau būtų pasakyti nuskanavau.



Jeremy Sabol

pretty good translation - not as transcendent as mitchell'sbook description says "long considered the definitive translation blah blah blah..." huh? by who?

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