Duino Elegies; The Sonnets to Orpheus
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Duino Elegies; The Sonnets to Orpheus

4.52 of 5 stars 4.52  ·  rating details  ·  901 ratings  ·  69 reviews
Rilke is one of the most widely read poets of the 20th century. In his poetry, Rilke addresses the problems of death, God, and "destructive time," and attempts to overcome and transform these problems into an indestructive inner world.
Hardcover, 147 pages
Published December 31st 1993 by Hulogosi Communications, Incorporated (first published 1923)
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Adam Floridia
I've never really liked poetry unless I'm teaching it because only then do I take the time to appreciate it. Yet, even without deep analysis so many poems can elicit immediate visceral responses to poignant imagery and intense emotion. For that reason, I've decided to make this Jameson's bedtime reading :-)

Different poems have different effects on his slumber:

Some cause him to think deeply


Others drive him into hiding


Some inspire a triumphant cheer


And others he just fucking hates


Finally, some are...more
Debbie Hu
Yesterday our campus bookstore had a sale and so I went and bought books including this one. Then instead of doing math homework I laid in the grass and read Rilke out loud to myself for two hours. I didn't mind that my throat got dry after a while.
I'm sorry. I really am. I really wanted to love this book, since I love poetry and I have read some excerpts of other works of Rainer Maria Rilke and I thought they were pretty interesting.
But I just couldn't bring myself to appreciate this one.

I consider myself an erudite/educate person, however you prefer to call it but I have to admit that I spent most of the time extremely confused.
I couldn't understand what was that the author wanted to transmit with the metaphors and chains of imagery he u...more
Jeffrey Bumiller
This is a beautiful book. I find it very surprising that this somewhat new (2009) book marks the first time these two works have been collected together, considering how strongly Rilke felt about them working in tandem. I find the story of the genesis of these poems almost as interesting as the poems themselves: Rilke's years of depression, his experience in WWI, the somewhat exotic location of their composition, all culminating in Rilke's "hurricane of the spirit" and the feverish completion of...more
Dad read this to me at bedtime see . I must admit...it did put me to sleep.
  With all its eyes the natural world looks out
into the Open. Only our eyes are turned
backward, and surround plant, animal, child
like traps, as they emerge into their freedom.
We know what is really out there only from
the animal's gaze; for we take the very young
child and force it around, so that it sees
objects-not the Open, which is so
deep in the animals' faces. Free from death.
We, only, can see death; the free animal
has its decline in back of it, forever,
and God in front, and when it
Justin Evans
Probably the most infuriating book of poetry I've ever read, perhaps will ever read. The highs and lows are so dizzyingly high and so mind-numbingly, banally low that I couldn't always keep pace. The first and tenth elegies were high, the other elegies interesting and beautiful, if you can stomach the whole whiney little boy thing he falls into occasionally, and his affection for idiot-metaphysics ('Sein Aufgang ist Dasein' and so forth). Many of the sonnets, however, are appalling. Once Rilke d...more
Poulin's translation makes certain different choices than I might. For example, "Weltsraum" tends to become "cosmic space". This material is certainly susceptible to New Age or deep-ecology readings; my own, naturally, tend to be more para-Christian than anything. Matter of taste perhaps. At a technical level, on the other hand, I have to admire Poulin managing to keep an English sonnet rhyme scheme in his translations while still keeping a sense of the German's freedom.

All that said, the point...more
Beverly Atkinson
Roger Housden's "ten poems to change your live again & again" begins with Part Two, XII of Rilke's "Sonnets to Orpheus." Housden includes this sonnet (from a translation by Anita Barrows and Joanna Macy) and then explicates the poem, commenting on it from his own life experience.

Reading this particular sonnet led to get a copy of all the "Sonnets to Orpheus," dual language edition with the German translated by Stephen Mitchell, from the public library. Although my German proficiency is weak...more
I loved the First Elegy, but everything afterward annoyed the hell out of me. Taken one phrase at a time, a lot of what Rilke has to say is interesting, and he does seem to have a way with words (if the translation is anywhere close to the original German), but the little frightened mama's boy that starts to emerge is a very unattractive figure, and seen in that light his intellectual exercises seem like hollow replacements for real living. Maybe I just wasn't getting it. It seems like every tim...more
Apr 23, 2008 Jake rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: Poets, lost souls, hippies with a bent for the bookshelf
I suspect I would have gotten a lot more out of this book, on an emotional level, were I more poetically-inclined/-informed/-etc. As it is, what few poems I understood intellectually were outstanding.

This is one of those new-fangled high-speed books printed in dual languages. The English translations of the German, the few times I checked them, were both poetically and semantically sound.

I know a huge number of people have gained great insight from reading Rilke's poetic output—but I guess I'm n...more
A constant companion.

Rilke's verse has been attempted by many a translator (Edward Snow and Stephen Mitchell are favorites), but not one has truly approached the master himself. For the Greeks, the poet was a "maker" (poeites) who coaxed new creations out of language. Rilke does not merely create from language; he recreates language itself, bending the rigid German language into fluid shapes, startling sounds. For these final poems to the Angel and to Orpheus, Lorca's poem "Abajo" might serve as...more
"...beauty's nothing
but the start of terror we can hardly bear,
and we adore it because of the serene scorn
it could kill us with. Every angel's terrifying.
So I control myself and choke back the lure
of my dark cry....
You still don't understand? Throw the emptiness in
your arms out into that space we breathe; maybe birds
will feel the air thinning as they fly deeper..."

"Lovers, satisfied with each other, I'm asking you
about us. You hold each other. What's your proof?
Look, sometimes it happens my hand...more
"...beauty's nothing
but the start of terror we can hardly bear,
and we adore it because of the serene scorn
it could kill us with. Every angel's terrifying.
So I control myself and choke back the lure
of my dark cry....
You still don't understand? Throw the emptiness in
your arms out into that space we breathe; maybe birds
will feel the air thinning as they fly deeper..."

"Lovers, satisfied with each other, I'm asking you
about us. You hold each other. What's your proof?
Look, sometimes it happens my hand...more
Something is definitely lost in translation. I have no doubt that Stephen Mitchell is the anglo authority on Rilke, and this is probably as good as it gets, but all I could think is that I really need to learn German to appreciate the original (not to mention also getting around to reading my favourite book Das Parfum in its original language...) I've come to realize that I don't like reading translations of poetry. The only exception being Baudelaire, translated by Poe (and vice-versa - check i...more
ArEzO.... Es
سوگندنامه و اشعار راينر ماريا ريلكه
جدا افتادن و تنها شدن شبيه باران‌اند.
از روی اقيانوس‌ها بالا می‌رود به سوی غروب:
از روی دشت‌ها، چرخ‌زنان و دور،
به آسمان، خانه‌ی ديرين‌اش.

بر ما می‌بارد در آن ساعات چهچهه
وقتی خيابان‌ها صورت خود را به سوی صبح می‌گردانند
و وقتی دو تن که هيچ پيدا نکردند
ناکام و افسرده، دور خود می‌چرخند:
و وقتی دو تن که هم‌دگر را تحقير می‌کنند
مجبورند در يک رختخواب با هم بخوابند.

I wish I was fancy enough to comment on this translation versus others. Alas, I am not fancy. Only deeply impressed by Rilke's elegies. I had read them before and enjoyed the terrifying angel, and Rilke's observation that terror must be attendant to beauty. But this reading, oh, this reading. If I had the eyes and mentality of an animal I might be able to do justice to all that is beautiful here. But I am only too human.
I apologize. I don't speak German, and I just don't understand this. The chains of images don't always follow from one another, and, rather than extending metaphors, he just mixes them. I do not enjoy being confused, much less being confused every single page. It felt like reading Gibran or Ashbery, and had me running back to Keats. I'd rather read a cookbook--at least it's lucid.
şaire haksızlık etmek istemem ama çeviriler bence şiir kitapları için yetersiz kalıyor. yanlış anlaşılmasın çevirmenin de burda bir hatası olduğunu düşünmüyorum. fakat ne kadar okursam okuyayım şiirdeki ahengi bütünde bulamıyorum. ben de ahenkli bulduğum satırlarla yetinmeye çalışıyorum.

Böyle saklamak istiyorum seni, kendini aynaya koyduğu gibi, en içine ve her şeyden uzağa. Rilke
David Radavich
Rainer Maria Rilke is one of my all-time favorite poets - an artist of stunningly original gifts. I always read his work in German, which is a special gift, because although I have translated his work myself, so much of the original genius is untranslatable. Nonetheless, I recommend that everyone give the English a try and glance now and then at the German originals.
Nov 13, 2010 Em rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Em by: Erick
Shelves: own, poetry, read-2010
A dear friend of mine had told me about Rilke. This is my second book of poetry and I absolutely love Rilke's poems. This book is great because it has the orginal poems in German (I so wish I knew German) and the translation in English.

My favorite poem in this collection is Duino Elegies. They are amazing. If you love poetry I highly recommend Rikle.
waking beasts
Duino Elegies a read many times during high school years. Certain parts of the Elegies I could have turned into tatoos, they were so marvelous. However only the translation by A Poulin Jr was suitable. I don't read German so I've never read the original, but i've read other translators and they were simply inferior to Poulin.
hmm, Duino, so beauty is the skin of terror, or it's the pavers on the road that leads to terror, or terror really means horror, and beauty is really divinity emulsified. Angels are scary, in any case. Works for me.
I enjoyed reading it in translation, and it's been a while since I read in German - I've missed it! The language is very lofty, almost philosophical or metaphysical/mystical in some ways -- but I didn't get lost in it (like I sort of did with Gertrude Stein). Beautiful poetry!
Mark Bennett
Read and reread the Elegies in different translations from the library. Decided to buy this particular translation for my bookshelf.

From the Sonnets,

"Oh where are we? Freer and freer,
like kites torn loose, tattered by wind,
we race midair, edged with laughter."
I consider myself an avid Rilke fan, and this was surprisingly my least favorite of his work, considering how highly celebrated the Duino Elegies are. It had its moments of course, but the works in Uncollected Poems speak much more to me than these Elegies or Sonnets.
Dec 01, 2007 Cory marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
I need to find out whether or not to finally drink the Rilke Kool-Aid. Looks promising so far:
"Don't be afraid to suffer; replace
the heaviness back on the earth's own weight:
the mountains are heavy, so are the seas"
from The Sonnets to Orpheus: First Series
I'm not sure how I made it this long without reading and Rilke, but after reading Gravity's Rainbow I felt compelled, finally, to read the poems that so influenced Pynchon. The Duino Elegies are really amazing, even in translation.
I love having the German translation on the facing page. Rilke should be read in German. And if your German is a little rusty, like mine, the English version is helpful. One of my favorite books of poetry.

Mish Middelmann
Rilke's poetry touches my deepest soul. So intense that it works best for me when I am in my most extreme states (no matter whether joy, anger, grief or fear). Lyrical, questing, stretching well beyond this life.
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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
More about Rainer Maria Rilke...
Letters to a Young Poet The Selected Poetry Duino Elegies The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge Rilke's Book of Hours: Love Poems to God

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“Though he works and worries, the farmer
never reaches down to where the seed turns
into summer. The earth grants.”
“Praise the world to the angel, not what can’t be talked about.
You can’t impress him with your grand emotions. In the grand cosmos
where he so intensely feels, you’re just a novice. So show
him some simple thing shaped for generation after generation
until it lives in our hands and in our eyes, and it’s ours.
Tell him about things. He’ll stand amazed, just as you did
beside the ropemaker in Rome or the potter on the Nile.
Show him how happy a thing can be, how innocent and ours;
how even grief’s lament purely determines its own shape,
serves as a thing, or dies in a thing — and escapes
In ecstasy beyond the violin.”
More quotes…