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In Praise of Mortality Paperback – February 7, 2006

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Anita Barrows, a prize-winning poet and a clinical psychologist, is the author of four books of her own poetry and the recipient of an NEA grant as well as the Quarterly Review of Literature's Contemporary Poetry Award. She has been a professional translator for more than thirty years. JOANNA MACY, whose eight books include World as Lover, World as Self, is a scholar of systems theory and Buddhist thought who helps people find inner resources for dealing with global crises.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Riverhead Trade (February 7, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1594481725
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594481727
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,310,993 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Shalom Freedman HALL OF FAME on June 21, 2008
Format: Hardcover
This is on the whole a wonderfully readable and clear translation. It makes the work of a very difficult poem quite comprehensible. Two technical elements are problematic. First, the decision is made here to translate selections of 'Sonnets from Orpheus' and 'Duino Elegies'. There is no reason given for not translating the works as a whole. It is impossible to understand the logic behind this especially as the one of the major tasks of the reader is to sense the connections between the poems, feel the overlapping of the themes and their development. Presenting 'selections' in this way deprives the reader of a major tool.
A second problem is in the layout of the 'Duino Elegies' in the text. Instead of the original German on one page, and the translation facing it we are given each work separately. So the whole task for the reader of looking at the original and seeing what has been done with it in the translation is made more difficult.
Here is the translation of the beginning of the first Elegy, followed by the Stephan Mitchell translation for comparison.
The first elegy begins in this translation as follows:

"If I cried out, who
in the heirarchies of angels
would hear me?

And if one of them should suddenly
take me to his heart,
I would perish in the power of his being.
For beauty is but the beginning of terror.
We can barely endure it
and are awed
when it declines to destroy us.

Every angel is terrifying in that way.
So I hold myself back
and let my scream for help
be swallowed by sobbing."

Stephen Mitchell translates the same passage as follows:
The First Elegy
Who, if I cried out, would hear me among the angels' hierarchies?
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By childrenofsa on November 4, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Rilke says everything I need to be said. He knows that 'each of us is alone' but by and through his writing in general he gives one comfort to that very singular realization, if that makes any sense. The idea and image of love and beauty as terrifying hits home and is so welcome in our world of no privacy and little time and space for solitude and reflection. Translation is wonderful. However I do not read German, which I trust is even more beautiful than the English.
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