Rainer Maria Rilke

ForumSomeone explain it to me...

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Rainer Maria Rilke

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Bearbeitet: Dez. 29, 2014, 6:41pm

I wanted to like his poetry. I really did. I just don't get what's wonderful about it. I read his Letters to a Young Poet and liked them quite a bit, though they weren't as wonderful and life-changing as several people assured me they would be, but when it came to his poetry, it just fell really flat for me. People have recommended Rilke, especially The Duino Elegies, time and time again to me, but I don't quite see why. I read Galway Kinnell's collection of translations, as he is an excellent poet in his own right. I figured maybe the translation had something to do with it, so I tried reading his poems in German, but my German is not so great.

I enjoyed several of his New Poems, such as "The Panther" and "Orpheus, Eurydice, Hermes" quite a bit, but almost nothing else.

I actually got very hung up on his work this past year just because I wanted very much to find something redeeming.

Anyone a big Rilke fan?

Bearbeitet: Mrz. 2, 2015, 12:23am

Yes. He is among my favorite poets. He puts words to things that might otherwise have been thought ineffable. His is a penetrating vision of the deepest realms of experience. He speaks with the utter authority that comes with inner clarity. His work is not for me to explain. His poems speak for themselves.

Mrz. 2, 2015, 9:06am

"Rilke was a jerk."
- John Berryman

Mrz. 2, 2015, 11:25am

No idea. But art remains when the artist is long gone.

Mrz. 3, 2015, 7:22pm

stellarexplorer, It's a nice sentiment, but they just weren't speaking to me. Is there a particular English translation which you hold in high esteem? Perhaps I could look into that?

Mrz. 4, 2015, 12:19am

Stephen Mitchell, I'd have to say. I admire your persistence with this. It's possible he's not for you? If you don't connect with Mitchell's translation of the Duino Elegies, maybe Rilke is just not your personal poet laureate...?

Mrz. 9, 2015, 9:44pm

Yes, it is very possible. I think, at this point, I'm trying to gain some understanding of why some people adore Rilke's work instead of trying to turn him into my muse or something. As for the persistence, I'm not certain what to say; I suppose I'm enthralled by what is an enigma to me.

Apr. 2, 2015, 10:58am

(Just discovered this thread.)

I don't enjoy ALL of Rilke's works either though I have revisited to Letters to a Young Poet many times.

That said, some of his poems just hit the mark. I wrote about one here: http://storyacious.com/weekend-poem-sunset-rainer-maria-rilke/. The poem itself is at the end, so you might want to scroll to that first and then read why it appeals.

Also, I'd suggest Robert Bly's translations if you're looking to read more of Rilke's poems.