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The Best of Rilke: 72 Form-true Verse Translations with Facing Originals, Commentary and Compact Biography

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A distinguished poet-translator presents faithful verse translations of 72 poems in a bilingual edition with commentary and biographical material. Rainer Maria Rilke’s best poems are finally available in translations so faithful yet free flowing that a reader forgets they were not originally written in English. Applying the same principle of “form-true” rendering that earne A distinguished poet-translator presents faithful verse translations of 72 poems in a bilingual edition with commentary and biographical material. Rainer Maria Rilke’s best poems are finally available in translations so faithful yet free flowing that a reader forgets they were not originally written in English. Applying the same principle of “form-true” rendering that earned him the Bollingen Prize for his translation of Pushkin’s Eugene Onegin, poet-translator Walter Arndt boldly claims to reproduce in English for the first time the prosodic identity of Rilke’s finest rhymed poems.


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A distinguished poet-translator presents faithful verse translations of 72 poems in a bilingual edition with commentary and biographical material. Rainer Maria Rilke’s best poems are finally available in translations so faithful yet free flowing that a reader forgets they were not originally written in English. Applying the same principle of “form-true” rendering that earne A distinguished poet-translator presents faithful verse translations of 72 poems in a bilingual edition with commentary and biographical material. Rainer Maria Rilke’s best poems are finally available in translations so faithful yet free flowing that a reader forgets they were not originally written in English. Applying the same principle of “form-true” rendering that earned him the Bollingen Prize for his translation of Pushkin’s Eugene Onegin, poet-translator Walter Arndt boldly claims to reproduce in English for the first time the prosodic identity of Rilke’s finest rhymed poems.

30 review for The Best of Rilke: 72 Form-true Verse Translations with Facing Originals, Commentary and Compact Biography

  1. 5 out of 5

    Tortla

    RILKE IS JOKES.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Nicholas

    How can you quibble with such perfection as "The Swan"? The way Rilke evokes the gait of the bird with his words alone... How can you quibble with such perfection as "The Swan"? The way Rilke evokes the gait of the bird with his words alone...

  3. 5 out of 5

    Merinde

    I'll never think of Rilke's poems about the poor and otherwise miserable the same way again: “To the twentieth-century reader of normal sensibility and social compassion all but the American ”yuppy” of the 1980s and the generations of plutocrats who bred him the gallery of “insulted and injured” (Dostoevsky) presented in Rilke’s cycle Voices would be an obvious and powerful, if understated, argument for social remedy and reform. Rilke, on the other hand, arch-reactionary in these matters, saw an I'll never think of Rilke's poems about the poor and otherwise miserable the same way again: “To the twentieth-century reader of normal sensibility and social compassion all but the American ”yuppy” of the 1980s and the generations of plutocrats who bred him the gallery of “insulted and injured” (Dostoevsky) presented in Rilke’s cycle Voices would be an obvious and powerful, if understated, argument for social remedy and reform. Rilke, on the other hand, arch-reactionary in these matters, saw an esthetic rightness in poverty and inequality, decried interference with established misery for betterment’s sake, and subscribed to the medieval motto “God bless the squire and his relations, and keep us in our proper stations.” This callous Bourbon cast of mind, suspected by few of his friends and probably connected with his lifelong craving for aristocratic roots and ties, is discernible already in relatively early works like the Prague tales, Stories of Our Lord, and Of Poverty and of Death. Answering a journalistic questionnaire thirty years later, far from revising his relish of inequality, he kneaded his sentiments into a miniature social theory: people would be mistaken to allocate any of my strivings to this category [of social concern]. An element of human sympathy, of fraternal feeling comes naturally to me, to be sure, and must be rooted in my being… But what totally distinguishes such a cheerful and natural attention from “social concern,” as people understand it, is a complete disinclination, even distaste, for changing anyone’s situation, or, as the saying goes, improve it. No one’s situation in the world is such that it could not be of peculiar benefit to his soul. If at some point I was able to cast the imaginary voices of the dwarf or the beggar into the mould of my heart, the metal of this casting was not derived from the wish that the dwarf’s or the beggar’s lot might be lightened; on the contrary, only exaltation of their incomparable fates enabled the poet, in his abrupt resolve to treat them, to be veracious and thorough, and he had to fear and decline nothing more than a corrected world in which the dwarves are elongated and the beggars enriched. The god of plenitude sees to it that these variants do not cease, and it would be the shallowest of interpretations were one to take the poet’s enjoyment of this suffering multiplicity for an esthetic alibi…”

  4. 4 out of 5

    Puri Kencana Putri

    It's been a while since I had read poetry books before my departure to Costa Rica, and all of sudden I've found the e-pub file of Rilke on my repository folders when I wanted to cleaned up some files. Hence, I decided to spent some of my time and I managed to finish this wonderful translation made by Walter Arndt. Well, long story short, this selection is a good one, there are some notes that became my favorite ones, inter alia Elegy for Marina Tsvetaeva, A New Year's, and Intimation of Reality. It's been a while since I had read poetry books before my departure to Costa Rica, and all of sudden I've found the e-pub file of Rilke on my repository folders when I wanted to cleaned up some files. Hence, I decided to spent some of my time and I managed to finish this wonderful translation made by Walter Arndt. Well, long story short, this selection is a good one, there are some notes that became my favorite ones, inter alia Elegy for Marina Tsvetaeva, A New Year's, and Intimation of Reality. For the latter, I will excerpt it here: "We have no clue to this departed state, It does not share with us. We feel no task To tender admiration, love, or hate To Death, with whom the fretful stylized mask Of tragedy so oddly misagrees. The world is yet so full of parts we play. While we still worry if we pleased that day, Death also plays, although he does not please. But when you left, there fell into the scene A ray of realness through the very gap By which you left us: greenness of true green, Natural sunshine, forest real with sap. We act, at times lay gestures by, recite Things studied anxiously and hard by rote, But of your being, now remote and quite So that, swept up in it for a short stint, We do real life, not thinking of applause." (p. 79 -80). I think I have to say a billion thanks to Walter Arndt for his brilliant translation too!

  5. 4 out of 5

    Kayla

    Rilke is one of the most amazing poets, no... writers, to ever have put pen to paper. I was first introduced to his brilliancy by Maggie Stiefvater's, Wolves of Mercy Falls series, with her charater Sam, and since then I have become infatuated. Rilke is one of the most amazing poets, no... writers, to ever have put pen to paper. I was first introduced to his brilliancy by Maggie Stiefvater's, Wolves of Mercy Falls series, with her charater Sam, and since then I have become infatuated.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Angi M

    I don't know why I've heard this guy's name so much. His poems do nothing for me! Pretty boring stuff. I don't know why I've heard this guy's name so much. His poems do nothing for me! Pretty boring stuff.

  7. 5 out of 5

    David Ranney

    Wer jetzt allein ist, wird es lange bleiben, wird wachen, lesen, lange Briefe schreiben

  8. 5 out of 5

    Jonathan

    None

  9. 4 out of 5

    Niki

  10. 5 out of 5

    Sam Olson

  11. 5 out of 5

    Peter Danbury

  12. 5 out of 5

    Amy Beth

  13. 5 out of 5

    Thomas Cotterill

  14. 4 out of 5

    Niko Hernandez

  15. 5 out of 5

    Friedrick

  16. 4 out of 5

    Athena

  17. 4 out of 5

    Zack

  18. 4 out of 5

    Rey De Lupos

  19. 4 out of 5

    Garlan ✌

  20. 5 out of 5

    doran

  21. 4 out of 5

    Landjonker

  22. 4 out of 5

    Oliver

  23. 5 out of 5

    Raymond

  24. 5 out of 5

    Tracie Margaret

  25. 5 out of 5

    Hilary

  26. 4 out of 5

    Alexis

  27. 4 out of 5

    Michael Chandler

  28. 4 out of 5

    V

  29. 5 out of 5

    Delia

  30. 5 out of 5

    Elena

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