Rilke's Book of Hours: Love Poems to God

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Overview

While visiting Russia in his twenties, Rainer Maria Rilke, one of the twentieth century's greatest poets, was moved by a spirituality he encountered there. Inspired, Rilke returned to Germany and put down on paper what he felt were spontaneously received prayers. Rilke's Book of Hours is the invigorating vision of spiritual practice for the secular world, and a work that seems remarkably prescient today, one hundred years after it was written.

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Rilke's Book of Hours: Love Poems to God

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Overview

While visiting Russia in his twenties, Rainer Maria Rilke, one of the twentieth century's greatest poets, was moved by a spirituality he encountered there. Inspired, Rilke returned to Germany and put down on paper what he felt were spontaneously received prayers. Rilke's Book of Hours is the invigorating vision of spiritual practice for the secular world, and a work that seems remarkably prescient today, one hundred years after it was written.

Rilke's Book of Hours shares with the reader a new kind of intimacy with God, or the divine--a reciprocal relationship between the divine and the ordinary in which God needs us as much as we need God. Rilke influenced generations of writers with his Letters to a Young Poet, and now Rilke's Book of Hours tells us that our role in the world is to love it and thereby love God into being. These fresh translations rendered by Joanna Macy, a mystic and spiritual teacher, and Anita Barrows, a skilled poet, capture Rilke's spirit as no one has done before.

Rilke influenced generations of writers with his Letters to a Young Poet. His Book of Hours offers an invigorating vision of spiritual practice for the secular world. These fresh translations by a distinguished poet and a well-known mystic and spiritual teacher capture Rilke's spirit in a uniquely new way. 176 pp. 12,500 print.

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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: 9781594481567
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 11/1/2005
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Edition number: 100
  • Pages: 272
  • Sales rank: 193,203
  • Product dimensions: 7.92 (w) x 10.88 (h) x 0.75 (d)

Meet the Author

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

Joanna Macy, author of World as Lover, World as Self, is a scholar of systems theory and Buddhist thought. Her work on the interface between social action and spiritual breakthrough has long been inspired by Rilke's Book of Hours.

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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.

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  • 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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    Posted October 28, 2008

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 8, 2011

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