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Duino Elegies; The Sonnets to Orpheus

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4.50  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,370 Ratings  ·  88 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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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,414)
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Florencia
Jun 10, 2014 Florencia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Who's turned us around like this,
so that whatever we do, we always have
the look of someone going away? Just as a man
on the last hill showing him his whole valley
one last time, turns, and stops, and lingers -
so we live, and are forever leaving.
(70)

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When was the last time you look at the stars? Feeling the bittersweet breeze of the night in your face. A face only illuminated by the distant light of the stars. Alone with your thoughts, feeling you can do anything. Go anywhere.
This book is an inv
...more
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

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Others drive him into hiding

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Some inspire a triumphant cheer

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And others he just fucking hates

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Finally, some are
...more
Debbie Hu
May 25, 2007 Debbie Hu rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Tom Wolfe
I won't presume to review the great German poet Rilke himself, so I'll confine my comments to Stephen Mitchell.

The foreword is mostly uninteresting. Mitchell's praise of Rilke's poetry is too effusive, and he resorts too often to unqualified hyperbole, such as saying that Rilke's composition of the later Duino Elegies and the Sonnets is the *greatest* moment of inspiration in literature. What a silly judgment to make.

I was annoyed that Mitchell's translation didn't bother to keep the rhyme schem
...more
Lucy Ibn al-Rashid
Sep 12, 2014 Lucy Ibn al-Rashid rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics, poetry
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
Ernie
Oct 27, 2008 Ernie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry, mythology
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
Annie
Feb 16, 2016 Annie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, german, poetry
The most important book I have ever read. Without exception, without even any strong competitors. I have kept a copy of the Duino Elegies with me, even on brief vacations, since the day I first read it at the age of 15. Nothing has constituted a greater impact on my identity more, and nor has anything provided the well of comfort, been the catalyst more ideas, or touched me quite so much as this book of poems. It would be impossible to overstate the impact they have had on me.

I've read all the
...more
Regan
Jan 31, 2016 Regan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A nice edition but Stephen Mitchell's translation hits me the hardest.
David Radavich
Jan 20, 2013 David Radavich rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Mark Ballinger
Oct 04, 2014 Mark Ballinger rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
I had hoped for some rich, deep, serious poetry. Instead I read this overripe mind-numbing emotionless pile. It seems like every poem starts line one with a small thought and then RAPTURE ANGELS LUMINOSITY WOO WOO. If Rilke has a poetic voice, it's one I don't care for.
Diana
May 01, 2016 Diana rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: versos
«¿De quién podemos valernos? No de ángeles ni de hombres.»

Más versos en: http://los-reflejos.blogspot.com.es/2...
Jem
May 04, 2012 Jem rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Dad read this to me at bedtime see . I must admit...it did put me to sleep.
Cosima
Jul 21, 2014 Cosima rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Duino Elegies are perhaps the pinnacle of Rilke's work - impressive imagery, breathtaking language (which is essentially untranslatable, in spite of the excellent English translations out there). Sometimes, just sometimes, however, I feel like the elegies would have been even better if Rilke hadn't assimilated Nietzsche's writings quite as religiously. Still, some of the best poetry in the German language. Nowhere can the gap between signifier and signified be felt more clearly than here. Th ...more
Marcus Mamourian
poetry is hard to translate
Ctgt
Mar 19, 2016 Ctgt rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
 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
...more
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
Chris
Jun 08, 2011 Chris rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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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
Matthew
Jun 19, 2009 Matthew rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jake
Apr 23, 2008 Jake rated it liked it  ·  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
Alex Obrigewitsch
These works are the epitome of Rilke's greatness.
Mitchell's translations are good as well, sticking fairly close to Rilke's language(if that makes any sense when speaking of translation)
Dawn
Dec 03, 2013 Dawn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
"...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
Lulu
Nov 27, 2013 Lulu rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
"...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
Greg Bem
May 19, 2016 Greg Bem rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My head responded in thick slabs of stone of ideas, desiring an enriched understanding of this genius.
Shirin
Sep 26, 2012 Shirin rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
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
Andrew Wright
Jan 04, 2016 Andrew Wright rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
The bilingual edition is great, but overall the book left me wanting. Most of the Duineser Elegien were beautiful, though I only occasionally gleaned meaning from them. The Sonnets were sometimes clunky and topical, but a few really stood out for stanzas of profound beauty. Of course, they all possess and rhythm and beauty that is sometimes lacking in English translation, but overall the translator has a profound accomplishment here.
Max
Nov 10, 2015 Max rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Mitchell's translations of Rilke may be my favorite.
E
Jun 11, 2015 E rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Duino Elegies is one of my most treasured texts ever.
Jeffrey W.
Pretty uneven, but there are moments of greatness.
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7906
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...

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“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.”
4 likes
“We’re involved with flower, fruit, grapevine.
They speak more than the language of the year.
Out of the darkness a blaze of colors appears,
and one perhaps that has the jealous shine

Of the dead, those who strengthen the earth.
What do we know of the part they assume?
It’s long been their habit to marrow the loam
with their own free marrow through and through.

Now the one question: Is it done gladly?
The work of sullen slaves, does this fruit
thrust up, clenched, toward us, its masters?

Sleeping with roots, granting us only
out of their surplus this hybrid made of mute
strength and kisses — are they the masters?”
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More quotes…