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The Selected Poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke

4.4  ·  Rating Details ·  10,804 Ratings  ·  235 Reviews
Parallel German text and English translation.

The influence and popularity of Rilke’s poetry in America have never been greater than they are today, more than fifty years after his death. Rilke is unquestionably the most significant and compelling poet of romantic transformation, of spiritual quest, that the twentieth century has known. His poems of ecstatic identification
Paperback, Bilingual edition, 356 pages
Published March 13th 1989 by Vintage
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Apr 19, 2016 Darwin8u rated it it was amazing
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
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
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
Feb 20, 2011 Kim rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
Miroku Nemeth
Feb 03, 2016 Miroku Nemeth rated it it was amazing
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
Aug 26, 2008 Yuval rated it it was amazing
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.
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
Jun 30, 2008 Tortla rated it it was amazing
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
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
Sep 03, 2010 Szplug rated it it was amazing
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
Oct 07, 2008 Mr. rated it it was amazing
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
Keith Michael
Aug 28, 2010 Keith Michael rated it it was amazing
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 ...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
Aug 26, 2016 Shelley rated it it was amazing
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. ...more
Cristian Iglesias
Oct 28, 2013 Cristian Iglesias rated it it was amazing
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
Matthew Gallaway
Mar 30, 2013 Matthew Gallaway rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
Joseph Shuffield
Jan 24, 2011 Joseph Shuffield rated it it was amazing
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
Winston O'Toole
Mar 03, 2013 Winston O'Toole rated it it was amazing

"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
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
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."
Brian Morrison
Dec 22, 2007 Brian Morrison rated it it was amazing
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!
Amy Joslyn
Oct 26, 2009 Amy Joslyn rated it it was amazing
This is one of my favorite poets...on ongoing read...
Nov 01, 2015 Dipankar rated it it was amazing
If only we too could discover a pure, contained,
human place, our own strip of fruit-bearing soil
between river and rock. For our own heart always exceeds
as theirs did. And we can no longer follow it, gazing
into images that soothe it or into the godlike bodies
where, measured more greatly, it achieves a greater repose.

Rilke talks about things that lie just at the periphery of even our most eclectic moments of far reaching contemplations, things that just elude us from grasping them with both our
Debbie Robson
Mar 09, 2010 Debbie Robson rated it it was amazing
The introduction and the notes were excellent but of course it is the Duino Elegies that will haunt me. I feel I really need to read them again and again. They are so layered and challenging.
I would actually like to own my own copy of the Elegies but without any other poems added to the collection. Not sure if they are available by themselves.
I also have liked, for a long time - You Who Never Arrived and hope to read one of his last poems written at the next Poetry at the Pub.
Jan 25, 2014 Elizabeth rated it it was amazing
Oh sweet mysteries of life I have found you...over and over again, here.
Feb 03, 2008 Flan rated it it was amazing
Shelves: always-reading
When I first got this book I loved the translation, then years later in 2000 I think, I was discussing Rilke with a German friend and she really didn't like the English translation of The Leopardin particular and the book in general. I guess I'm at the mercy of translations until I become multi-lingual,Maybe I like Mitchell because I can feel how much he loves the work. Rilke even in translation transports me out of my tired little self into a human with possiblities.
Cecilia Persson
Nov 13, 2007 Cecilia Persson rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Poetry lovers.
Stephen Mitchell provides by far the most musical and natural sounding translations of Rilke. I don't speak or read German, but the quality of the finished translation is far higher than any other translators of Rilke. I also believe he's pretty well-regarded in the field. Rilke's poetry spoke to my romantic (college) soul and still strikes me as some of the most beautiful language ever produced. The introduction to this edition speaks of Rilke's poetic voice sounding like someone whispering in ...more
Oct 29, 2007 Erin rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: those open to opening; searchers
this book changed my life and helped me find my path as a dragonslaying princess (read it and you'll see what I mean.)

I've read several versions and and Mitchell's translation is the best I've found.

Rilke is an old soul and it comes across in his poetry and here in his letters. A firm, but gentle reminder that in the end we are all alone. The thing we should fear most is not being alone, but not being able to sit with ourselves and feel the silence.

Nov 10, 2007 Jessica rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: people who don't know german (though the german's here too, if you do)
Shelves: favorites
Who, if I cried out, would hear me among the angels'
hierarchies? and even if one of them pressed me
suddenly against his heart: I would be consumed
in that overwhelming existence. For beauty is nothing
but the beginning of terror, which we still are just able to endure,
and we are so awed because it serenely distains
to annihilate us. Every angel is terrifying.
And so I hold myself back and swallow the call-note
of my dark sobbing. Ah, whom can we ever turn to
in our need? Not angels, not humans,
and al
Feb 09, 2016 Jenny rated it it was amazing

"And it was almost a girl who, stepping from
this single harmony of song and lyre,
appeared to me through her diaphanous form
and made herself a bed inside my ear.

And slept in me. Her sleep was everything:
the awesome trees, the distances I had felt
so deeply that I could touch them, meadows in spring:
all wonders that had ever seized my heart.

She slept the world (....)"

(from The Sonnets to Orpheus I,2.)

Through the brilliant translation of Stephen Mitchell I truly re-discovered Rilke, the poet that h
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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  
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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...

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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.” 771 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.” 333 likes
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