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Translations from the Poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke

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These translations by M.D. Herter Norton offer Rilke's work to the English-speaking world in an accurate, sensitive, modern version. These translations by M.D. Herter Norton offer Rilke's work to the English-speaking world in an accurate, sensitive, modern version.


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These translations by M.D. Herter Norton offer Rilke's work to the English-speaking world in an accurate, sensitive, modern version. These translations by M.D. Herter Norton offer Rilke's work to the English-speaking world in an accurate, sensitive, modern version.

30 review for Translations from the Poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke

  1. 5 out of 5

    Sam

    Poems shift when you aren't reading them; it's hard to imagine rating a poem, much less a book of poetry, much less a book of translations from a German poet who's notoriously hard to pin down. (I'm not even going to talk about the translation issues here, because they're beyond my understanding.) I can't tell you what I think of Rilke, really, because all of these poems - and especially the Book of Pictures, which is my favorite part of this collection - have a way of confusing me. Any given po Poems shift when you aren't reading them; it's hard to imagine rating a poem, much less a book of poetry, much less a book of translations from a German poet who's notoriously hard to pin down. (I'm not even going to talk about the translation issues here, because they're beyond my understanding.) I can't tell you what I think of Rilke, really, because all of these poems - and especially the Book of Pictures, which is my favorite part of this collection - have a way of confusing me. Any given poem in this collection can make me swoon, and then make me bored, or even angry, when I read it a second time. Sometimes a poem will seem so good that it doesn't even seem like poetry, in the sense that I forget about the language on the page as language, and the structure seems weightless: not somebody setting down a series of lines, but somebody whispering in your ear. Other times I see the cracks, and because these poems - for me - get their power from being seamless, I feel like someone's pulling a trick on me, and I get resentful for having liked them in the first place. For instance, this stanza: Again the forest is fragrant the soaring lark lifts up aloft with them the sky that to our shoulders was heavy one still saw the day through the branches, indeed, that it was empty - but after long, raining afternoons come the gold-besunned newer hours before which fleeing on far housefronts all the wounded windows fearfully beat with wings I read this yesterday and I let myself get led along with it. I set aside all my problems, or else the problems came later: the ornate language, the romanticism that comes close to cliche, the overfamiliarity of a poem set after a rainstorm. I just let myself think about how it feels when a sky seems heavy and then turns light, and the last image of windows fearfully beating - not "their wings", but "with wings", which is somehow much better - made me put the book down and remember the last time I walked down Lombard Street on the way to the subway and saw all those little colonial windows with electric candles behind the glass. So then I walked around all day with the idea of the poem in my head, thinking how lucky it was that I had decided to buy some Rilke at the bookstore. Everything smelled better; all the people in their wool coats walking their dogs seemed to have secret purposes. (Look at this, this is terrible, just thinking about it makes me try to write like Rilke, what a terrible thing!) How silly I had been to think I was being a romantic sad-sack or a boring reactionary for picking Rilke off of the shelves. How stupid to even think about grabbing the Ashbery instead. Now, of course, I've read the poem again, and I think that I was a romantic sad-sack and a boring reactionary to like it, and that I should have gotten the Ashbery instead. The Ashbery wouldn't have made me swoon in such a simple way, probably, but it's intellectually defensible, and it wouldn't have made me embarrassed in the morning. I mean, Jesus Christ! Fragrant forests? Soaring larks? Gold-besunned? What place do those sorts of adjectives have in my life, or in any of our lives? What was I doing walking around the city and pretending like fake colonial windows were in some way significant? What am I, fourteen years old again? I feel like I just wrote a love letter, slipped it in box of chocolates, and put in on the doorstep of a girl who only like guys that ride motorcycles; now I'm waiting around hitting myself in the face for it. I don't know if it's the worse or the better part of me that loves these poems. They want you to believe in a presence behind things, in an intensity of life that borders on the religious. They want you to think that there are wings beating behind the windows. But you can't go around all the time like you've just fallen in love; you'd be insane. Sometimes you wake up and you're not in love; you're just you, windows are just windows, and these poems no longer make any sense. But four stars anyway, because I am a romantic sad-sack, and all big feelings are boring and reactionary.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Kate

    If i ever learn german it will be for one reason: rilke. that said, the ever complex entanglement of translational issues leads me to believe that M.D. Herter Norton's translations are somehow more appropriate than most others. If i ever learn german it will be for one reason: rilke. that said, the ever complex entanglement of translational issues leads me to believe that M.D. Herter Norton's translations are somehow more appropriate than most others.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Bob Walenski

    I still have my Norton publication of these poems from my college years, including my marginal notes from then. These simple poems resonated more to me then, as an English major deeply involved in his study of literature. Upon a fresher reading, i thought them to be quite learned....... formal ..... passionate, but also a bit obscure. This group was a collection of shorter pieces, taken from Rilke's earlier days for the most part. Nothing is complete, but the brief poems are like tiny, quick pic I still have my Norton publication of these poems from my college years, including my marginal notes from then. These simple poems resonated more to me then, as an English major deeply involved in his study of literature. Upon a fresher reading, i thought them to be quite learned....... formal ..... passionate, but also a bit obscure. This group was a collection of shorter pieces, taken from Rilke's earlier days for the most part. Nothing is complete, but the brief poems are like tiny, quick picture flashes. Since Rilke was deeply influenced by the Bible and art history the subject matter was mostly classical. Rilke's poems stand well as esoteric, formal verse.....not so well as images we see in contemporary poetry. Rilke was one of the favorites of one of my more influential college English Professors. It's where I first heard his words read aloud and read them myself. This particular collection was not from his best works, but perhaps from some of his 'easiest' works. I wouldn't recommend this to most readers, unless you have a persuasion to classic poetry. Rilke's most famous works include: "Letters to a Young Poet", "Sonnets to Orpheus", the "Stories of God" and his "Duino Elegies". His work is highly respected in literary poetic circles, but for the most part not appreciated by larger segments of society. My personal Favorite from this book follows: Grave Hour Who now weeps anywhere in the world, without cause weeps in the world, weeps for me. Who now laughs anywhere in the night, without cause laughs in the night, laughs at me. Who now moves anywhere in the world, without cause moves in the world, moves towards me. Who now dies anywhere in the world, without cause dies in the world, looks at me. from "Book of Pictures" 1902-1906

  4. 4 out of 5

    Yuthika

    I love Rainer Maria Rilke!! I wish I could understand the language, because so many things and emotions get lost in translation. Nevertheless, a beautiful collection.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Jordan Cymrot

    I wasn’t as overly impressed with this as other works by Rilke I have read and loved. There were a few 5 stars but overall a three star read.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Birsilah Bakar

    Can't wrap my head around the poems :( The only thing I liked about them was the length. Can't wrap my head around the poems :( The only thing I liked about them was the length.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Franceseattle

    Norton's translations are very literal and sometimes the meaning suffers, ie the English constructions are much more awkward than the same text in German. However, they are most helpful for those who know some German and would like to read the German on the other page. If you want to read only in English, other translations might be more helpful. Norton's translations are very literal and sometimes the meaning suffers, ie the English constructions are much more awkward than the same text in German. However, they are most helpful for those who know some German and would like to read the German on the other page. If you want to read only in English, other translations might be more helpful.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Henny

    Rilke is just amazing, and this translation is wonderful. I think Rilke was one of the reasons why I *tried* to learn Deutsche. The fact that I failed even the beginner's course is not Rilke's fault though. A wonderful gem to have on any bookshelf, I reckon. Rilke is just amazing, and this translation is wonderful. I think Rilke was one of the reasons why I *tried* to learn Deutsche. The fact that I failed even the beginner's course is not Rilke's fault though. A wonderful gem to have on any bookshelf, I reckon.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Cynthia

    Overall I loved it, although I had a hard time wrapping my head around some of the poems. I think I'll find another translation and compare. Overall I loved it, although I had a hard time wrapping my head around some of the poems. I think I'll find another translation and compare.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Corey

    You know....he is really good.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Jordan

  12. 4 out of 5

    Vanessa Frymier

  13. 4 out of 5

    Aishlinn Carter

  14. 4 out of 5

    Donna

  15. 5 out of 5

    Jhune

  16. 4 out of 5

    Katie

  17. 5 out of 5

    Angela

  18. 4 out of 5

    Meg

    still returning to it to be re-read over and over again

  19. 4 out of 5

    Samuel Humphreys

  20. 4 out of 5

    Curtis

  21. 5 out of 5

    Chris

  22. 5 out of 5

    Jesse Campagna

  23. 4 out of 5

    Peter

  24. 4 out of 5

    Kyle V

  25. 4 out of 5

    Howard Phillips

  26. 4 out of 5

    Luc

  27. 4 out of 5

    Koko Hunt

  28. 4 out of 5

    Gregory T. Janetka

  29. 5 out of 5

    Brittany

  30. 5 out of 5

    Thomas

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