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Poetry (1900-1945) > Rainer Maria Rilke

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message 1: by Jim (new)

Jim | 24 comments poetry to me is better than philosophical writing as it says somethung profound without all the complicated prose

Here Rilkie captures the essence of how time passes in life


message 2: by Tressa (last edited Dec 03, 2010 08:17AM) (new)

Tressa  (moanalisa) Wow, I love how you guys are discussing poetry over here!

I was a German minor in college, and did a paper (got an A+!) on Rilke's "The Panther." It is a beautiful poem about how wild nature can never truly be caged. Physically, yes; but the memory and instinct contained in the DNA will always be.

This is my favorite translation and the one I used for my paper:

The Panther

His vision, from the constantly passing bars,
has grown so weary that it cannot hold
anything else. It seems to him there are
a thousand bars; and behind the bars, no world.

As he paces in cramped circles, over and over,
the movement of his powerful soft strides
is like a ritual dance around a center
in which a mighty will stands paralyzed.

Only at times, the curtain of the pupils
lifts, quietly--. An image enters in,
rushes down through the tensed, arrested muscles,
plunges into the heart and is gone.

That last stanza is mind blowing for me. The agitated panther circling behind bars in an urban setting, and a prehistoric image perhaps of prey enters with abounding energy through the eye, through the muscles, and into the heart where it's gone in a puff of smoke. That panther instinct is still there.


message 3: by Tressa (new)

Tressa  (moanalisa) On a similar note, I adore "The Swan" too.

The Swan

This laboring through what is still undone,
as though, legs bound, we hobbled along the way,
is like the akward walking of the swan.

And dying-to let go, no longer feel
the solid ground we stand on every day-
is like anxious letting himself fall

into waters, which receive him gently
and which, as though with reverence and joy,
draw back past him in streams on either side;
while, infinitely silent and aware,
in his full majesty and ever more
indifferent, he condescends to glide.


message 4: by Jan C (new)

Jan C (woeisme) | 1526 comments You are forcing me to add Rilke to my TBR.

Is there a volume you recommend to start with. I just added the Uncollected Poems: Bilingual Edition translated by Edward Snow to my Amazon Wish list. But is there something else that is better to start with? I am totally unfamiliar with his writing. But I love "The Panther".


message 5: by Tressa (new)

Tressa  (moanalisa) Jan, any collection with his most famous poems would be a good introduction. I've got a Collected Poems of Rilke in my bookcase, but haven't cracked it open for a while. When I need a Rilke fix I just look them up on line.

I like to read the different translations of my favorites. I don't know if it's just because I've read that version of "The Panther" so often, but it sounds more "right" to my ears than other versions. I also like to read it aloud in German.


message 6: by Jan C (new)

Jan C (woeisme) | 1526 comments This Uncollected Poems is bilingual. Actually they had a couple of bilingual collections listed on Amazon. It doesn't matter to me - I can't read German. It's not at all like French is it?


message 7: by Tressa (new)

Tressa  (moanalisa) No, German isn't like French at all. Although I love the German language, it's not pretty to the ears like the romance languages.

I've had bilingual collections before and just read the English poems.


message 8: by Zach (new)

Zach Irvin | 2 comments Moving Forward

The deep parts of my life pour onward,
as if the river shores were opening out.
It seems that things are more like me now,
that I can see farther into paintings.
I feel closer to what language can't reach.
With my senses, as with birds, I climb
into the windy heaven, out of the oak,
in the ponds broken off from the sky
my falling sinks, as if standing on fishes.


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Uncollected Poems (other topics)

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