Sonnets to Orpheus

Sonnets to Orpheus

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by Rainer Maria Rilke
     
 

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Written with astonishing rapidity in two weeks of February 1922, when Rilke was finally completing the Duino Elegies that had occupied him intermittently for a decade, Sonnets to Orpheus is a series of fifty-five brilliant and affirmative songs. It is in a sense a spontaneous creative dividend generated by a larger work. Because the sonnets were written only four… See more details below

Overview

Written with astonishing rapidity in two weeks of February 1922, when Rilke was finally completing the Duino Elegies that had occupied him intermittently for a decade, Sonnets to Orpheus is a series of fifty-five brilliant and affirmative songs. It is in a sense a spontaneous creative dividend generated by a larger work. Because the sonnets were written only four years before Rilke's death, they belong properly to his final and philosophic period, and offer a sharp and striking contrast to the less mystical Das Buch der Bilder and Neue Gedichte.

Rainer Maria Rilke was one of Germany's most important poets. His influences include the paintings of the Worpswedders and the French Impressionists, the sculpture of Rodin (to whom he was both friend and secretary), and the poetry of Baudelaire, Verlaine, Mallarmé, and other symbolists. His poetry is innovative, enigmatic, and entertainingly idiosyncratic. C.F. MacIntyre's translations are both true to the original and poetic in their own right, and in each book he includes an introduction and notes. German text faces the English translation.

Author Biography: C.F. MacIntyre (d.1967) was well known as a translator. In addition to works by Rilke, he translated Goethe's Faust and many of the French symbolists: Nerval, Baudelaire,Verlaine, Corbière, Mallarmé, Rimbaud, Laforgue, and Valéry. His volumes of original poems include The Black Bull, Cafés and Cathedrals, and Poems.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
With acclaimed versions of The Duino Elegies and Uncollected Poems already in print, Edward Snow's historic rendering of the Rilke oeuvre gets one step closer to completion with Sonnets to Orpheus. Rainer Maria Rilke (1875-1926) composed the first set of 26 sonnets just before completing the monumental elegies, and the second 29 just after. Rendered here without rhyme and with German facing text, Snow makes clear why the sonnets are "Sayable only by the singer./ Audible only by the god." Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
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 of being in which all the ordinary human dichotomies (life/death, good/evil) are reconciled in an infinite wholeness.'' Stephen Mitchell's translations are masterful re-creations of the original, giving both precise renderings of Rilke's language and sensitive interpretations of his poetic intent. This fine dual-language edition is highly recommended. Ulrike S. Rettig, German Dept., Hervard Univ.
From the Publisher
“An undisputed masterpiece by one of the greatest modern poets translated here by a master of translation”—Voice Literary Supplement

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781871438604
Publisher:
Skoob Books Publishing, Limited
Publication date:
01/01/1995

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What People are saying about this

Stanley Plumly
“An artful and sensitive translation of this most elusive of Rilke’s poetry…the thing that Rilke made is once again alive to us, all of it…Young has subtracted…the most persistent problem with other translations: he does not let the music of the form haunt the poem. There is no rhetorical ‘rounding-out,’ in either Pound’s fine phrase, emotional slither. The reader feels that Young has successfully ‘inhabited’ the form, found a correlative language.”
From the Publisher
"Willis Barnstone has been appointed a special angel to bring 'the other' to our attention, to show how it is done. He illuminates the spirit for us and he clarifies the unclarifiable. I think he does this by beating his wings."—Gerald Stern

"Willis Barnstone's versions of Rilke's Sonnets to Orpheus are daring, passionate, and beautiful. The choices he makes between beauty, song, and literalness serve a cause Rilke would approve. Of all translations of the sonnets, Barnstone's songs tame the animals while serving Rilke's great art."—Stanley Moss, author of A History of Color

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