From Library Journal
Not quite literal and not quite poetry, these translations arrive on the heels of Snow's version of Rilke's New Poems: The Other Part (1908; LJ 9/1/87). Snow's assertion that Rilke's output needs to be read in the sequences assembled in his lifetime justifies this project, the first complete edition in English, but it begs to be superseded. M.D. Herder Norton, who did not venture the complete Book of Images , remains the most welcoming of Rilke's career translators, while Robert Bly's adaptations are more magical. Snow is most successful in matching the tension in Rilke's poetic line and his calculatedly awkward vocabulary. One finishes this book with the appropriate breathless, disoriented sensation of having read a lot of Rilke. Though "images" were still important at this stage in his development (1902-06), this is already the poet who hears "words which mean nothing certain/ and yet go, go inside the ear, keep going/ into the brain and secretly on the nerve-branches/ through every limb try out leap after leap."-- Rob Schmieder, Boston
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Snow, who so insightfully translated the two volumes of Rilke's New Poems
, has now turned to The Book of Images
, one of the poet's most startling and diverse masterworks. Snow has rendered with great skill and accuracy a work both familiar and unknown, more complicated and more immediate than many have suspected, at once grave, mysterious, and beautiful. (Edward Hirsch
How much setting straight Snow's new translation of The Book of Images
accomplishes! With these sorrowing and luminous poems to lead up to Snow's two volumes of the New Poems
, it is possible to gain, for the first time in English, a consistent perspective of Rilke's difficult canon, here restored and disclosed to stunning effect. (Richard Howard