Rilke's Book of Hours: Love Poems to God

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At the beginning of this century, a young German poet returned from a journey to Russia, where he had immersed himself in the spirituality he discovered there. He "received" a series of poems about which he did not speak for a long time - he considered them sacred, and different from anything else he ever had done and ever would do again. This poet saw the coming darkness of the century, and saw the struggle we would have in our relationship to the divine. The poet was Rainer Maria Rilke, and these love poems to ...
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Rilke's Book of Hours: Love Poems to God

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Overview

At the beginning of this century, a young German poet returned from a journey to Russia, where he had immersed himself in the spirituality he discovered there. He "received" a series of poems about which he did not speak for a long time - he considered them sacred, and different from anything else he ever had done and ever would do again. This poet saw the coming darkness of the century, and saw the struggle we would have in our relationship to the divine. The poet was Rainer Maria Rilke, and these love poems to God make up his Book of Hours.

Inspired by a visit he paid to a Russian monastery in the spring of 1899, the young Rainer Maria Rilke began a series of religious verses which he described to a friend as 'inner dictations.' Coming from Riverhead this March, Rilke's Book of Hours collects these meditations, edited and translated by Anita Barrows and Joanna Macy.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
The German poet Rilke wrote his Book of Hours (Das Stundenbuch) between 1899, when he was 23 years old, and 1903. The poems, sacred and intimate and not intended for the public, "came to him" in a highly inspirational way-he described it as "inner dictation"-following a visit to a monastery in Russia, where he was deeply moved by the practice of praying several times daily following a "book of hours." Barrows and Macy, accomplished poets who were born into the Judeo-Christian tradition but who have also embraced Buddhism, have carefully translated 80 of the 135 poems in the original Stundenbuch, culling some poems they felt to be weaker or less relevant to a late 20th-century reader and artfully reducing other poems to their essentials. Thus, this treasurable collection is a collaboration among three poets (or perhaps four, if one counts Rilke's insistence on the contribution of the divine!). Here is just one of many stunning moments in the extensively annotated and thoroughly prefaced collection: "All becoming has needed me./ My looking ripens things/ and they come toward me, to meet and be met." And, striking a contemporary chord: "I am living just as the century ends./ A great leaf, that God and you and I/ have covered with writing/ turns now, overhead, in strange hands." Highly recommended.-Judy Clarence, California State Univ. Lib., Hayward
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781573220330
  • Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 3/5/1996
  • Pages: 166
  • Product dimensions: 5.76 (w) x 8.64 (h) x 0.73 (d)

Meet the Author

Anita Barrows, a prize-winning poet and a clinical psychologist, is the author of four books of her own poetry and the recipient of an NEA grant as well as the Quarterly Review of Literature's Contemporary Poetry Award. She has been a professional translator for more than thirty years.

Joanna Macy is a scholar of systems theory and Buddhist thought, and a student of German. Also a spiritual teacher and ecologist, she has spoken at the White House about ecology and spirituality.

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Table of Contents

Preface 1
Preface 9
Introduction 17
Notes on the Translation 35
The Book of a Monastic Life 45
The Book of Pilgrimage 93
The Book of Poverty and Death 125
Commentary 149
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 7 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 8 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 13, 2010

    Beautiful!

    This is absolutely gorgeous poetry and inspiring to read. The words flow remarkably, in spite of translation, and Rilke has a way of making the words move your heart.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 5, 2004

    Desecration.

    Haplessly, this publication is an affront to the venerable legacy of Rilke. A myriad poems have been truncated, or superfluously emended, simply because Rilke's poetry smacks of piety that might corrupt twenty-century readers? This is not the voice of Rilke.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 28, 2013

    Wonderful

    This book has been my introduction to Rainer Maria Rilke. The poems (addressed to God) and their translations are wonderful, and the prefatory matter adds to their impact. The facing-page bilingual format makes the paper version easier to read than the e-book.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 14, 2011

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    Posted December 27, 2010

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    Posted July 28, 2009

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 28, 2008

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 8, 2011

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