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Rainer Maria Rilke: Selected Poems

4.40  ·  Rating Details  ·  10,872 Ratings  ·  291 Reviews
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Paperback, 224 pages
Published January 22nd 1986 by Routledge (first published January 1st 1938)
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Apr 19, 2016 Darwin8u rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014
“Yet, no matter how deeply I go down into myself, my God is dark, and like a webbing made of a hundred roots that drink in silence.”
― Rainer Maria Rilke, The Selected Poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke

Rainer Maria Rilke seems to stretch his words from the dirt to the stars with his poems. His verse is my favorite kind of poetry. He is wrestling with angels, looking for the THING, peeling back the skin on tangerines while counting the seeds. This is both the poetry of my youth (I first read Rilke in H
Aug 08, 2009 Geoff rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
I have read many of the poems in this collection dozens of times, by a handful of different translators, and I never, ever tire of Rilke. No modern poet goes as far into himself, into "the invisible, unheard center", and returns with such gems, really revelations. Revelatory image succeeds revelatory image. Am I being a bit too grandiose? That's fine, I think Rilke is the greatest poet of the 20th century, and high praise is not praise enough. A pure writer. Mitchell's translations are gorgeous ...more
There are not enough stars on Goodreads for Rilke. I loved this book, which included a little sampler from each of his books, chronologically, except the Duino Elegies, which was here in its entirety. I read the Duino Elegies first and was hooked, but the others are almost as good. The Sonnets to Orpheus especially are great, and some of his stand alone poems. Also because this was roughly chronological, you can see his progression as a poet, and how he developed his ideas, themes, and writing. ...more
Feb 20, 2011 Kim rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry, read-2011
Many poets can distill their thoughts, observations, and feelings into poetry in a way that I could never accomplish, but I don't necessarily view them as wise human beings. They might have all sorts of other strengths, but deep interior wisdom is not what they give me. There are some poets, however, who take me to places that resonate so deeply and do it in language that I would never discover in myself. What they say is suffused with wisdom. Rilke is such a poet for me. Wisława Szymborska is a ...more
This is a book you might need years to prepare for.

Rilke is complex, his images interweave and play off each other. I believe it has something to do with the penchant for puns and hyphenated, conjuncted words that German is prone to.

"Archaic Torso Of Apollo" is one of the most powerful, moving pieces in all of 20th Century poetry.

Rilke is light years beyond you, dear reader, as he is for 90% of all his readers.

But he is accessible in small glimpses if you come correct with an open mind and re
Sep 03, 2010 Szplug rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Achingly beautiful German poetry from the arboreal mists of Central Europe. My German is pitiful and leaves me with no way of knowing how faithful Stephen Mitchell remained to his brilliant source, but I do know that his English renderings are lovely and sublime in and of themselves. Although the famous Duino Elegies, Requiem and Sonnets to Orpheus are ripe with concentrated genius, the entire compendium is a breathtaking achievement, my favorite poetry collection of recent years and, along with ...more
Miroku Nemeth
Feb 03, 2016 Miroku Nemeth rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Rilke's words spring from a compassion and nobility that plunges into the depths and rises to the heights of human experience. Spend time with this book. You will increase your humanity.

Everywhere transience is plunging into the depth of Being....It is our task to imprint this temporary, perishable earth into ourselves so deeply, so painfully and passionately, that its essence can rise again, 'invisibly,' inside us. We are the bees of the invisible. We wildly collect the honey of the visible, to
Keith Michael
Aug 28, 2010 Keith Michael rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Rilke is truly incredible. his style is so vaporous- the images linger and cloud together, broken up by indefinite semicolons and dashes, and the final lines are like cold glass against the cheek. he's overwhelmingly receptive to beauty and intensity in the world; in letters, he wrote to a friend about the hours he spent watching deer at the zoo. i recognized a lot of romantic sublimity in his earlier poems, in the descriptions of potential in the animals' limbs and gazes, the latent power sugge ...more
Matthew Gallaway
This book is worth fifty stars alone for the opening essay by Robert Hass, which traces the evolution of Rilke from an artist who craves an understanding of the unknown space within him, to his comprehension that this space represents death, and finally to the idea that writing poetry about this space is the life that arises from death. (I'm not really doing it justice, but just to give you an idea.) As for the poems themselves, the translations seem very adept and beautiful to me (not that I ca ...more
Aug 26, 2008 Yuval rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everybody
I'm not the world's biggest poetry buff, but Rilke's work is more like lyric philosophy, and the depth of ideas and richness of imagery is overwhelming. It's been way too long since reading these, and I've thoroughly loved the re-read over the last few weeks.

Last time I read this, I did not speak German, so this is the first time I was able to assess Stephen Mitchell's translations of the poems from German. They are truly amazing; accurate, graceful, and lovely. I can't imagine any better.

from The Book of Hours
--34. 'The day is coming when from God the Tree'

from The Book of Images
--Autumn Day
--The Spectator

from New Poems: First Part
--Joshua's Council
--The Departure of the Prodigal Son
--The Olive Garden
--The Poet's Death
--The Cathedral
--The Panther
--The Donor
--Roman Sarcophagi
--A Feminine Destiny
--Going Blind
--In a Foreign Park
--The Courtesan
--The Steps of the Orangery
--The Merry-go-Round
--Orpheus, Eurydice, Hermes

from New Poem
Katherine Cowley
I first discovered Rilke earlier this month when one of my friends posted a snippet of his poetry for National Poetry Month. The lines entranced me, and I decided I wanted to read more. So I found this selection of his poetry and read it from start to finish.

I loved the critical introduction by Robert Haas--it was a fascinating look at Rilke's life and poems, and helped me get a lot more out of my reading, by understanding the context.

My impression of Rilke is that his poems describe the beaut
Apr 23, 2014 Bruce rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have read this edition of Rilke’s poetry several times since 1993, and I am sure that my recent reading will not be my last. Stephen Mitchell has done a good job of editing and translating Rilke’s work, and this bilingual edition would seem ideal for those readers who read German (alas, I do so poorly). Included in the book are poems from several of Rilke’s collections as well as selections from his prose work, The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge. There are no selections from Letters to a Yo ...more
Oct 07, 2008 Mr. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Du im Voraus
Verlone Geliebte, Nimmergekimmene,
Nicht weiss ich, welche Tone dir lieb sind.
Nicht mehr versuch ich, dich, wenn das Kommenende wogt,
Zu erkennen. Alle die grossen
Bilder in mir, im Fernen erfahrene Landschaft,
Stadte und Turme und Brucken und un-
Vermutete Wedung der Wege
Und das Gewaltige jener von Gottern
Einst durchwachsenen Lander:
Steigt zur Bedeutung in mir
Deiner, Entgehende, an.

You who never arrived
In my arms, Beloved, who were lost
From the start,
I don't even know what
Jul 05, 2015 Abeer rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry, austria
Rilke was a sensitive introverted person who was completely driven by the concept of solitude and all it's fruits. And this was my first attraction to him as a thinker. But I had no idea what he was like as a poet.
This specific collection was perfect because it gathered a few poems from all of his poetic work through the years, and getting to see his evolution was wonderful. The beautiful style only gets better around his last works but the themes and ideas are what interested me most, he start
Jun 30, 2008 Tortla rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Shannon
Honorary "dragons" shelving for being just that awesome.

Also, I think I've read all the poems and most of the extra stuff, but I'm not sure if I consider this as "read," yet. I think it's going to stay on the currently-reading shelf until I learn German and French so as to be able to read the pre-translated half (so it's quite possible that this book shall never be "read"). Seriously, Rilke has made me want to learn German and French so I can read his stuff in the original languages (and un
Dec 30, 2010 Justin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The side by side German/ English text is most welcome and encouragement enough to learn Deutsche. I have read only a few other translations of Rilke and Stephen Mitchell's flows very well, although I cannot speak to how many liberties he takes with the original German. This book contains arguably Rilke's best works: the Duino Elegies, Sonnets to Orpheus, and others that he wrote during different stages of his life. The poems are arranged chronologically, and its fascinating to see his developmen ...more
POEMS by Rainier Maria Rilke
5 stars and numerous lyrical notes ( θ)ノ
(OK, so I love this man! Does it "show?")

“The only way I know to describe the beauty of Rilke's poetry is to say it this way: Imagine God Himself or His choir invisible or a Seraphim Angel breathing soft,

ohhh, with such pure divine tranquility, akin to a whispered, mellifluous lullaby, with all the transcendence that IS the sublime Word Painter Rilke, being sung directly

into your heart, indeed, to the deepest corner of your s
Oct 28, 2009 CoolBreeze1978 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Rilke delivers. These poems will sing you to sleep and with good dreams. I give it four stars instead of five only because I only like to read this before bed and even though it's amazing, it always puts me to sleep.

I am fuzzy on when I started this one. I think it was after I got into Bukowski which would have been around '03 (ought three). The only memory I have of reading this would have been a time lying in bed on a cold winter night while I was living with my downtown
Cristian Iglesias
I haven't read a poem since high school. In fact, I had forgotten how to read poetry. Best advice I found was to read it literal. And so I did. And let me tell you, from the first poem to the last, I fell in love with Rilke over and over and over again. Some touched my heart while others played with my mind. They riddled my thoughts giving me the opportunity to dig deeper, for an understanding. And the deeper I dug the more profound the verses became. I highly recommend Rilke to anyone who likes ...more
Jan 28, 2014 Shelley rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There are times when I can't read Rilke; there are times when I can't put him away. His images are always occupying space in my head, though. This collection was given to me by a friend about 10 years ago. Over time, the pages have begun to come loose, but they still bear the notes and highlights of past readings. Re-reading it now, those highlighted passages and dog-eared pages are even more beautiful than I remembered. And I love the Robert Haas introduction, which sweeps you up in Rilke. Bewa ...more
Joseph Shuffield
Jan 24, 2011 Joseph Shuffield rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
I've worn this book out. Stephen Mitchell's translations of Rilke are still the ones I prefer. They eschew Rilke's original meters and rhyme structures in favor of capturing his precise images and moods. Other translations attempt the rhymes but seem awkward, and still others seem little more than pale, New Agey impressions of the orignals. I wish there was a complete Mitchell translation of the Book of Hours, but if you love poetry and have not read Rilke, this will be a wonderful introduction ...more
Oct 03, 2010 Cat rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I keep this little book close and go back to it again and again. Each time, I discover yet another profound insight or turn of phrase. One reason I love it so much is there's the original poem in German on the left, and the translation on the right. And the translator has tried his very best to stay true to Rilke's simple, plain-spoken language. I particularly appreciate how ... quietly contemplative Rilke was without being too flowery or trying too hard. A real gem.
Winston O'Toole
Mar 03, 2013 Winston O'Toole rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

"But because truly being here is so much. Because everything here
apparently needs us, this fleeting world, which in some strange way
keeps calling to us. Us, the most fleeting of all.
Once for each thing. Just once; no more. And we too,
just once. And never again. But to have been
this once, completely, even if only once:
to have been at one with the earth, seems beyond undoing."
Marck Rimorin
Jun 15, 2015 Marck Rimorin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've always been somewhat partial to Robert Bly's translations, but this was amazing in its own right. Skipped the German parts because I didn't understand, but I loved the two poems from "The Book of Hours" (which is something I should probably find soon), and of course, "You who never arrived" and "As once the winged energy of delight."
Jun 11, 2008 Andy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Prose prozacs
Anybody who tells you that Germans are a gruff, unromantic bunch never read Rilke. This is the most delicate, romantic poetry I've ever read.
"If you are the dreamer, then I am the dream.
But when you want to wake, I am your wish."
Nov 01, 2008 julia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love this because the translation really nails the purity and depth of the poems. I also enjoyed the history of the poems and where Rilke was in his life during the periods. I'm sure I'll buy this one to read over and over.
Brian Morrison
Dec 22, 2007 Brian Morrison rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone
Shelves: poetry
this is my absolute favorite book in the world. it's so much a favorite, i didn't even add it to my favorites list. it's even more favoriter than that!
Jan 25, 2014 Elizabeth rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Oh sweet mysteries of life I have found you...over and over again, here.
Amy Joslyn
Oct 26, 2009 Amy Joslyn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is one of my favorite poets...on ongoing read...
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Goodreads Librari...: Rilke getting rooked.. 3 15 Nov 03, 2015 09:28PM  
The end of poetry is to give pleasure. 1 6 Nov 27, 2014 06:17PM  
The end of poetry is to give pleasure. 1 4 Nov 27, 2014 06:17PM  
Book reviews 1 10 Dec 10, 2012 04:09AM  
  • The Collected Poems
  • View With a Grain of Sand: Selected Poems
  • The Palm at the End of the Mind: Selected Poems and a Play
  • The Selected Poetry of Yehuda Amichai
  • Selected Poems
  • Poems of Paul Celan
  • The Wild Iris
  • The Complete Poems
  • Book of My Nights
  • The Book of Nightmares
  • The Selected Poems
  • Selected Poems
  • Opened Ground: Selected Poems, 1966-1996
  • Selected Poems and Fragments
  • The Selected Poems
  • The Fact of a Doorframe: Poems Selected and New, 1950-1984
  • The Collected Poems, 1957-1987
  • Selected Poems
Rainer Maria Rilke is considered one of the German language's greatest 20th century poets.

His haunting images tend to focus on the difficulty of communion with the ineffable in an age of disbelief, solitude, and profound anxiety — themes that tend to position him as a transitional figure between the traditional and the modernist poets.

He wrote in both verse and a highly lyrical prose. His two mos
More about Rainer Maria Rilke...

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“For one human being to love another human being: that is perhaps the most difficult task that has been given to us, the ultimate, the final problem and proof, the work for which all other work is merely preparation.” 748 likes
“Yet, no matter how deeply I go down into myself, my God is dark, and like a webbing made of a hundred roots that drink in silence.” 319 likes
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