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on June 25, 2011
A Year with Rilke: Daily Readings from the Best of Rainer Maria Rilke

Rilke is one of those names that have kept coming up for me in my reading through the years, like Jung or Blake, one of those touchstone names.

Off and on I've tried reading Rilke in various translations (I don't read German). I own 8 or 10 books on him. I dip a toe or a foot in, but have found him a singularly difficult poet to like and enjoy. Impressive maybe, but generally cold and imposing, with a strange, Teutonic, convoluted syntax.

I happened on Joanna Macy and Anita Barrow's translation of Rilke's "Book of Hours" and liked it, was intrigued with it, but it's one short volume. When this volume came out, I hemmed and hawed about spending the money on such a doubtful chance, but in fact this book has proven a pleasure and even a treasure.

I cannot speak to the translation's "accuracy." Some Amazon reviewers have had issues with the looseness of this translation. For accuracy, Stephen Mitchell's is the standard, although the intricacies of Rilke's originals are legend. But Mitchell's translation has never warmed me. (So, of course the present volume isn't organized for students.)

But this Macy-Barrow verse is a real pleasure to read. It is written in free verse with a clear and slightly --enjoyably-- feminine warmth to it.

And essentially, it lets me see clearly the depths of Rilke's spirituality. Independent of religious traditions, Rilke, I see now for myself, saw profoundly and with great originality into the depths in human matters far and wide.

I thought such a large collection might be too much for me. In fact --now-- I really appreciate the size. The daily excerpts are easily taken in, and I love that I can roam over the great range of this poet's work.

One caveat: future editions would benefit from better paper.

On the other hand, this book makes a lovely gift. Hardcover, the paper jacket has the most beautiful portrait of Rilke I have ever seen (painted by Boris Pasternak's father on Rilke's trip to Russia). Clearly this book is a labor of love.

A wonderful gift to me, and I imagine to others who have stumbled in reading him.

Warmly recommended.
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on October 11, 2010
I first found Rilke as a 20 something, his Letters to a Young Poet. I remember I found it amazing, but somehow never followed up on reading his poetry.

I stumbled onto The Book of Hours (Das Stunden-Buch) a couple years ago (the Macy and Barrow's translation.) Initially it drove me crazy their translation style. But after the second read though I found I liked it more than some of the more literal translations. I feel in love with Rilke's work.

This is an amazing book, a chance to spend a year with Rilke reading his poems, letters, and journals. Its a chance to really taste his life and influences.

Highly recommend.
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on September 25, 2012
I would not have purchased this book if I had initially realized that there was one poem for each day. I find that kind of thing to be rather gimmicky. After reading through the first several months though, I am so glad that I did. I have read quite a bit of Rilke-he is one of my favorite poets-and I think that the translators did a superb job. I don't read German, so I have no idea about original translations or anything like that, but these translators really capture the heart and the mystical insight of Rilke. Most selections stand alone as an insightful work of art, and I love that they chose sections from letters, prose and different books of poetry. Fabulous work. I wish that they would translate his entire canon. I think that they really "get him."
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on June 27, 2011
an amazing way to start your day---a fabuous writer whether writing poetry, letters or his journal. His spirituality is the best of christianity, with insights that will appeal to those, like me, who lean more to the eastern traditions.
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on July 23, 2011
This is a great way to start your day, as at least one other reviewer has noted. If you truly know and love Rilke, some of the translations may throw you off, however. These are as much interpretations and revisions as translations. The authors explain their process in the introduction. One is occasionally "thrown" by a new interpretation of a favorite passage, for example the end of the fourth Duino Elegy. When in doubt as to how faithful their concept is, I've gone back to the German. Doing that has been a refreshing exercise and it is good to see familiar passages through their eyes.
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on August 26, 2015
Rilke is one of the best writers of the modern age. His imagery is complex and subtle. This book is a selection of poems and other excerpts of his work, each brief enough to read in a spare moment, and then ponder through the rest of the day.
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on March 5, 2015
This collection of translated poems is fabulous. I enjoy being able to pick up and read by the day or to read passages from days skipped. On the day of my father's funeral the daily poem was about the death of a father. So touching. I recommend this book. The quality of the pages is not the highest so if you are a person who prefers leather bound or gold edged books you will not appreciate the book's quality.
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on June 16, 2011
This has become a daily ritual for me... a wonderful way to begin the day. I think the translations are quite beautifully done.
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on September 16, 2015
Beautifully compiled, it's an ingenious way to get to know Rilke in bite sized pieces. You truly get a feel for who he is as a writer, and human, both of whom are exceptional. He is deeply humane, and compassionate, while still understanding, and considering all aspects of human nature. I especially love his ponderings about God, and letters written to Him/Her, as this is where his clever and unique way of thinking about the Devine truly set him apart as a writer and thinker. I will never loan out or give away his books, as they're is always more to discover. In some ways he reminds me of Borges. I would love to have lunch with the both of them someday.
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on January 12, 2015
I knew little of Rilke's poetry or writings except from his thoughts and poetry quoted in other works. I think volume is an excellent way to daily read a small selection from a variety of his work in order to become acquainted with Rilke's work which describes often the transcendence and limitations of this world. I am looking forward to working through the book one day at at time in 2015.The book jacket and entire layout book itself is attractive and small enough to easy to carry.
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