Rainer Maria Rilke (1875-1926), most known for his poetry, is considered one of the most important Bohemian-Austrian writers from the 20th century. In his lifetime, he published three collections of poetry and one novel. His poems commonly draw on figures from Greek mythology, themes of love and death, and occasionally religious symbols such as angels. In more recent years, his work has been appropriated by the New Age community and commonly used in self-help books.
Translated by Ruth Speirs (1916-2000), a Latvian exile who joined the British literary community in Cairo during World War Two, and edited by John Pilling and Peter Robinson, this new collection combines some of his very best works including poems from Duino Elegies and Sonnets to Orpheus as well as new poems. Rhythmically alive and carefully faithful, a uniquely mid-century English accent has been given to Rilke’s extraordinary German while continuing to bear comparison with current efforts to render his tenderly taxing voice.
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