Duino Elegies/The Sonnets of Orpheus

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

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Genres

Currently Reading Favorites Fiction German German Literature Literature Poetry To Read Translated Unfinished

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

Laura

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.

David Radavich

Rainer Maria Rilke is one of my all-time favorite poets - an artist of stunningly original gifts. I always read his work in German, which is a special gift, because although I have translated his work myself, so much of the original genius is untranslatable. Nonetheless, I recommend that everyone give the English a try and glance now and then at the German originals.

Jeffrey Bumiller

This is a beautiful book. I find it very surprising that this somewhat new (2009) book marks the first time these two works have been collected together, considering how strongly Rilke felt about them working in tandem. I find the story of the genesis of these poems almost as interesting as the poems themselves: Rilke's years of depression, his experience in WWI, the somewhat exotic location of their composition, all culminating in Rilke's "hurricane of the spirit" and the feverish completion of these poems.I can't comment on the translation of these poems since this is the only time I've read them. Stephen Mitchell has also translated every other book of Rilke's that I've read. He is, apparently, The man to turn to for translations of Rilke's work. I found these highly intense, powerful poems inspiring and they renewed my belief in, and fascination with the idea of the "muse." (Rilke apparently heard the first line of the first elegy from a disembodied voice while out on a walk.)The Endnotes, some of which are made up of Rilke's letters, add a whole other layer to the poems as well.This is an incredible book, an important book, and it will remain very close to me.

Matthew

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.

h

haunted.

Beverly Atkinson

Roger Housden's "ten poems to change your live again & again" begins with Part Two, XII of Rilke's "Sonnets to Orpheus." Housden includes this sonnet (from a translation by Anita Barrows and Joanna Macy) and then explicates the poem, commenting on it from his own life experience. Reading this particular sonnet led to get a copy of all the "Sonnets to Orpheus," dual language edition with the German translated by Stephen Mitchell, from the public library. Although my German proficiency is weak from disuse, I was compelled to read (orally) each sonnet first in German, then in English, stop to reflect, and read again in German. What an enriching experience!I came across Anita Barrows while reading Krista Tippett, "Speaking of Faith" and/or "Einstein's God" (I think the latter) which led me again to Rilke, this time "The Book of Hours."

Ernie

A constant companion.Rilke's verse has been attempted by many a translator (Edward Snow and Stephen Mitchell are favorites), but not one has truly approached the master himself. For the Greeks, the poet was a "maker" (poeites) who coaxed new creations out of language. Rilke does not merely create from language; he recreates language itself, bending the rigid German language into fluid shapes, startling sounds. For these final poems to the Angel and to Orpheus, Lorca's poem "Abajo" might serve as the best commentary: El espacio estrellado se refleja en sonidos. Lianas espectrales. Arpa laberíntica. The expansiveness of starspace reflects itself in sounds. Phantasmatic creepers. Labyrinthine harp.

Debbie Hu

Yesterday our campus bookstore had a sale and so I went and bought books including this one. Then instead of doing math homework I laid in the grass and read Rilke out loud to myself for two hours. I didn't mind that my throat got dry after a while.

Mary

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.

Hannah

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.

Reda

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

Andrea

I don't know what's going on for half of this book, but I'm not sure I care--that's how gorgeous some of these lines are. Really lovely and mysterious.

Jake

I suspect I would have gotten a lot more out of this book, on an emotional level, were I more poetically-inclined/-informed/-etc. As it is, what few poems I understood intellectually were outstanding.This is one of those new-fangled high-speed books printed in dual languages. The English translations of the German, the few times I checked them, were both poetically and semantically sound.I know a huge number of people have gained great insight from reading Rilke's poetic output—but I guess I'm not one of them yet. This is definitely a work I want to pick up again later (I'm not completely put off by my lack of understanding of him at all—much of Rilke is very approachable), but I think this volume requires a bit more intensive study than I'm able to put out.

Shirin

Something is definitely lost in translation. I have no doubt that Stephen Mitchell is the anglo authority on Rilke, and this is probably as good as it gets, but all I could think is that I really need to learn German to appreciate the original (not to mention also getting around to reading my favourite book Das Parfum in its original language...) I've come to realize that I don't like reading translations of poetry. The only exception being Baudelaire, translated by Poe (and vice-versa - check it out if you're bilingual. I guess they used to have depressed bromies translation seshes).

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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