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The Book of Images

4.41 of 5 stars 4.41  ·  rating details  ·  901 ratings  ·  31 reviews
Now substantially revised by Edward Snow, whom Denise Levertov once called "far and away Rilke's best translator," this bilingual edition of The Book of Images contains a number of the great poet's previously untranslated pieces. Also included are several of Rilke's best-loved lyrics, such as "Autumn," "Childhood," "Lament," "Evening," and "Entrance."
Paperback, 280 pages
Published June 1st 1994 by North Point Press (first published January 1st 1919)
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Community Reviews

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A noite, agitada por crescentes tempestades,
como se torna subitamente imensa -,
como se habitualmente estivesse recolhida
nas ínfimas dobras do tempo.
Não acaba onde as estrelas tentam detêm-la
nem começa no meio da floresta,
nem no meu semblante
nem na tua forma.
Os candeeiros balbuciam e não sabem:
mentimos luz?
É a noite a única realidade
desde há milhares de anos...
There is very little question that Rilke was the greatest German poet of the 20th century. The only question that remains is whether he was the greatest poet in any language. His brief, imaginative poems capture the essence of man in the modern period, alone, isolated, and without meaning.

Edward Snow has captured the grace and subtle imagery of Rilke in this altogether outstanding collection of poems, in large part because he is a great poet in his own right. Readers of Rilke will surely be fam
This is my very favourite book of poetry. It so beautiful it hurts my heart. I've bought extra copies of it and given it away.
Especially wonderful if you are afraid of or intimidated by poetry.

I enjoyed having the english translation next to the original german because I understand some german.

I've been told that this specific translation and translator keeps us as closer to the original words of Rilke than translations by others. Wish I understood and could read these more fully in german. I always wonder if we miss subtleties and deeper understanding when not reading any author's works not in his or her native tong
Jean-Paul Walshaw-Sauter
Rainer Maria Rilke “Buch der Bilder” contains an amazing palette of images and impressions ranging from Spring and childhood to Autumn, storms and the night. Death, despair and mortality play a central role in his impressionist verse. Rilke's poetry possesses a lyrical grace and mystical quality that has a hypnotic effect on the reader:


Die Blätter fallen, fallen wie von weit,
als welkten in den Himmeln ferne Gärten;
sie fallen mit verneinender Gebärde.

Und in den Nächten fällt die schwere Erd
David Haight
Most people reach for The Letters or the Duino Elegies. Now the Elegies are without a doubt Rilke's best work but the Book of Images was really the book that brought me into Rilke's world and showed me how great of a poet he is. The Duino Elegies one comes back to over a lifetime - they are epic. But the poems here are smaller in scale but they are no less effective in their lyricism, their beauty and their melancholy. "I am like a flag surrounded by distances." Lines like these are etched in im ...more
Oct 10, 2009 SooYoung rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: the masses
I've been "reading" this for a while. Basically whenever I'm in need of some good poetry I pick it up.
I'm torn when I read works in translation because do I love the poet or the translator? I've read other works by Rilke (ie other translations) and have really enjoyed them, so definitely giving my props to Rilke. He offers up beautiful imagery like: "I want to become like one of those / who drive through the night with wild horses / with torches, which like unloosened hair / blow in the great wi
This isn't my first time reading Rilke's work, but it took me a little bit to get the feel for The Book of Images. It's beautifully written but that seems to be the only real connecting thread. The poems deal a lot with romanticized history -- men on the battlefront, Tsars, Italian aristocracy -- but it also captures people in moments of vulnerability. The second part of the second book is really the strongest, in my opinion, with some of my favorite poems -- The Blind Woman, The Voices poem cyc ...more
obviously not as mesmerizing as letters to a young poet. still very nice.

"and again my inmost life rushes louder, as if it moved now between steeper banks. objects become ever more related to me, and all pictures ever more pursued. i feel myself more trusting in the nameless: with my senses, as with birds, I reach into the windy heavens from the oak, and into the small ponds' broken-off day my feeling sinks, as if it stood on fishes." from progress.
The first Rilke collection I ever read. Some of the poems will be with me for life. Some have faded. These poems are like masterful postcards of stained glass, whose color you learn to appreciate with time, as it becomes nuanced and fainter in places. When the light comes through these panels, though, it shines with an unmatched vibrancy on an unexpected host. Those moments make it worth reading this collection again and again.
Apr 06, 2009 Kate rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fledgelings and fleshlings
Shelves: poetry
This is probably my favorite Rilke series, and I feel the least troubled by translation issues with Snow at the helm. He uses language that's contemporary, but not devoid of poetic feeling.

Extra points because he didn't massacre the poem, Evening "Abend", which permanently resides in my brain from Norton's somewhat archaic, but still lovely translation. He even opened it up a little for me with his contemporary flair.
He has a most definite style with he uses for his advantage and of course to an almost rhythmically perfect and visually spectacular effect. The poetry here stands out as shining example of the poets ability to weave the German word effortlessly. They roll off the tongue as smooth as the red Sun setting behind a dusky horizon on some Autumn evening.

Pleasing but hitting hard. Or is it hard hitting?
I really enjoyed having the original German side-by-side with the English translation (even though my grasp of German is, let's just say, less than elementary). Aside from that, I think Rilke is an underrated poet well worth reading. This book is a good start.
An accessible translation of a series of poems written about 100 years ago. Many of the themes and images still resonate. A good introduction to German poetry for English speakers learning German.
There is so much beauty in each of these poems. I'll have to pick up this book so I can have the pleasure of reading them whenever I want.
Jens Peters
Lovely poetry, and very readable. Enough narration to just go on reading, but equally dense enough to stop anywhere and start thinking.
Bailey Robertson
My first Rainer Maria Rilke and I liked it. Not as magical as I thought it would be, but I don't know what I expected.
Really uneven, but as long as you stay away from most of the poem cycles you're bound to find great stuff in here.
First Last
Wonderful words. Another Simic - or maybe I have that backwards - Simic is another Rilke.
David E. Starr
I love me some Rilke. Very good translations of very much of his work.
best ever. there is none that is better than this. this is it. that is all.
if only religion didn't ruin perfectly sexy poetry with chastity and piousness.
April Marriner
Whatever page you open into Rilke, you find magic and truth.
I'm a Rilke dilitante, but I'm really enjoying this one.
I don't read poetry. This book of poetry is excellent.
Jessica Lebaron
Moves the spirt in a delight of mystery.
Wish I could read the German.
depressing and awesome.
Karen Light
gorgeous and moving
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Rilke Translation 1 13 Jan 02, 2010 06:56PM  
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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...
Letters to a Young Poet The Selected Poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke Duino Elegies The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge Rilke's Book of Hours: Love Poems to God

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“Girls, there are poets who learn from you
to say, what you, in your aloneness, are;
and they learn through you to live distantness,
as the evenings through the great stars
become accustomed to eternity.”
“Whoever you are: in the evening step out
of your room, where you know everything;
yours is the last house before the far-off:
whoever you are.
With your eyes, which in their weariness
barely free themselves from the worn-out threshold,
you lift very slowly one black tree
and place it against the sky: slender, alone.
And you have made the world. And it is huge
and like a word which grows ripe in silence.
And as your will seizes on its meaning,
tenderly your eyes let it go...”
More quotes…