The Selected Poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke
, Mar 13, 1989
- 356 pages
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 with the world exert a seemingly endless fascination for contemporary readers. In Stephen Mitchell's versions, many readers feel that they have discovered an English rendering that captures the lyric intensity, fluency, and reach of Rilke's poetry more accurately and convincingly than has ever been done before. Mr. Mitchell is impeccable in his adherence to Rilke's text, to his formal music, and to the complexity of his thought; at the same time, his work has authority and power as poetry in its own right. Few translators of any poet have arrived at the delicate balance of fidelity and originality that Mr. Mitchell has brought off with seeming effortlessness. The generous and unusual selection that the translator has made from Rilke's large body of work has been praised by scholars for the judicious picture it offers of the breadth and depth of Rilke's greatness. The German text is printed facing the translations, and the poems have been extensively annotated with relevant quotations from Rilke's correspondence and other essential information. Noted poet and critic Robert Hass's searching introduction, "Looking for Rilke," discusses the span of Rilke's career and his importance for the American poetic tradition.