Sonnets to Orpheus

Front Cover
Wesleyan University Press, 1987 - Literary Criticism - 116 pages
5 Reviews
Sonnets to Orpheus is Rainer Maria Rilke’s first and only sonnet sequence. It is an undisputed masterpiece by one of the greatest modern poets, translated here by a master of translation, David Young.

Rilke revived and transformed the traditional sonnet sequence in the Sonnets. Instead of centering on love for a particular person, as has many other sonneteers, he wrote an extended love poem to the world, celebrating such diverse things as mirrors, dogs, fruit, breathing, and childhood. Many of the sonnets are addressed to two recurrent figures: the god Orpheus (prototype of the poet) and a young dancer, whose death is treated elegiacally.

These ecstatic and meditative lyric poems are a kind of manual on how to approach the world – how to understand and love it. David Young’s is the first most sensitive of the translations of this work, superior to other translations in sound and sense. He captures Rilke’s simple, concrete, and colloquial language, writing with a precision close to the original.

What people are saying - Write a review

User ratings

5 stars
1
4 stars
0
3 stars
3
2 stars
1
1 star
0

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - Frenzie - LibraryThing

Technically great, occasionally beautiful and thought-provoking, often silly imagery and it can be a bit of a drag. I prefer other Rilke. Regarding this edition, it features a Dutch translation & the ... Read full review

The sonnets to Orpheus

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

Rilke's Sonnets to Orpheus (published 1923 in German) rank with the most distinguished works of modern poetry. Written in an extraordinary burst of inspiration, these poems reveal a vision of "a mode ... Read full review

Other editions - View all

References to this book

All Book Search results »

About the author (1987)

RAINER MARIA RILKE was born in Prague in 1875. After a motley education at military and business schools and at Prague's Charles University, he traveled in Europe, Russia, Egypt, and Tunsinia. In addition to Sonnets to Orpheus, Rilke's works include the Duino Elegies, The Book of Pictures, Poems from the Book of Hours, New Poems, and The Notebook of Malte Laurids Brigge. Rilke died in 1926.

Bibliographic information