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The Selected Poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke (English and German Edition) Paperback – March 13, 1989
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Top Customer Reviews
Since I do not speak German, I can speak neither to the accuracy of translation nor interpretation (realizing that they are separate concepts). But I can tell you that this keeps me coming back for more (so much so I have 2 copies, plus a hardback, which differs slightly in content). It's the sort of book that if I loan it, I'm astonished to get it back. And don't really mind.
Mitchell has included in his notes excerpts from diaries and letters which I otherwise would never have had the joy of knowing, nor insght into not only the heart of the poet, but the heart of God as well.
Mitchell also has the integrity to refrain from attempting to translate some works which, I believe, he would have otherwise loved to share. His rationale, from the intro to the "Notes" section, follows:
"Translating poems into equivalent formal patterns is to some extent a matter of luck, or grace, and this is especially true of rhymed poems. Rilke called rhyme "a goddess of secret and ancient coincidences" and said that "she is very capricious; one cannot summon or foresee her; she comes as happiness comes, hands filled with the achievement that is already in flower." Some of my favorite poems never got beyond a rough draft, because that sweet goddess refused to make even the briefest appearance."
This poetry is a love letter to life, no matter what an acedemic might say about the relative merits of the translation/ interpretation. Reading Rilke, I understand why Jung (I think it was Jung) said, "Everywhere I go, I find the poet is there before me." (or words to that effect) Enjoy.
This volume collections all of the Duino Elegies, and generous portions of the various collections, including a fair number of the Sonnets to Orpheus. For most, this will be the only edition of Rilke's verse that they will need.
These are some great, great poems. Apart from the Duino Elegies, I believe my favorites would include the amazing "Archaic Torso of Apollo," in which the poet becomes so entranced studying the statue that it proclaims to him in closing, "You must change your life." "The Panther" is without any question one of the most haunting poems of the twentieth century, with its building sense of some great revelation, only to end with the expected image plunging into the heart and disappearing. My favorite poem in the collection, however, may be one from the UNCOLLECTED POEMS, the amazing "You Who Never Arrived," in which the poet muses on all the occasions upon which he and his beloved never met (Rilke's belief was that we are destined never to meet our true love), but nevertheless perhaps came tantalizing close. For instance, he walks into a shop from which she has just left, where the "mirrors are still dizzy with your presence." He ends his musings, "Who knows? perhaps the same/bird echoed through both of us/yesterday, separate, in the evening . . . "
This is an essential volume for any lover of great poetry. I can't recommend this highly enough.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I have had this book in hard cover for over 30 years. I just found it in the Kindle Store and had to have it for my tablet. Read morePublished 9 months ago by Jenny Dowd
Beautiful copy! The provider was very nice as to also draw a cute picture thanking me on the receipt. However, the binding seems to be faulty and many of the pages have fallen out. Read morePublished 10 months ago by Ezekiel Yu
The introduction is dull and difficult to plow through. The poems are usually beyond my comprehension. Read morePublished 11 months ago by Vicky Ogle Reinhart
I must disagree with other reviewers that this is a somehow magnificent translation. To be sure, one can capture something of Rilke's tone and voice in these renderings, and they... Read morePublished 12 months ago by Tim Ellison
Good coverage of the mind and career of one of history's all-time greats. On top of that, Stephen Mitchell is the best, deepest, most lively translator at work today. Read morePublished 15 months ago by Brian Wachter