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Sonnets to Orpheus by Rainer Rilke


Sonnets to Orpheus by Rainer Rilke

In fifty-five sonnets, Rilke plays an astonishing set of philosophical and sensual variations on the Orpheus myth. 'Praising, that's it!' he declares; nature, art, love, time, childhood, technology, poverty, justice - all are encompassed in poems that spark with insight and invention, amongst the joyful and light-footed that Rilke ever wrote. 'All poetry resists translation, and one poem may have many different versions in another language; what I look for first is clarity, and this version supplies that generously. With the presence of the German text and Crucefix's helpful notes, the English-speaking reader with little or no German will find in this version a welcoming entrance to the path which leads eventually to a full understanding - if a full understanding of this mysterious poetry is ever possible. This translation will have, and keep, a place on my shelves where all the poetry lives.' PHILIP PULLMAN


'This translation will have, and keep, a place on my bookshelves where all the poetry lives.'
PHILIP PULLMAN The Sonnets to Orpheus are some of the greatest philosophical poems of the century. Martyn Crucefix

's impressive previous translations of the Duino Elegies have accustomed us to a way of hearing Rilke, but these are, if anything, more beautiful and natural versions, the form falling lightly on the ear, the thought tantalisingly clear in these bold explorations at the edge of sensibility. GEORGE SZIRTES'

About the Author

Perhaps the greatest lyric poet of the twentieth century, RAINER MARIA RILKE (1875 - 1926) was born in Prague and led a nomadic existence, living in Germany, Russia, Spain, Italy and France before his death in Switzerland from leukaemia. He dedicated himself exclusively to his work, including the New Poems (1907 - 8), the semi-autobiographical novel The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge (1910), Duino Elegies (1923) and Sonnets to Orpheus (1923). MARTYN CRUCEFIX's own poetry - for which he has won numerous prizes, including a major Eric Gregory award and a Hawthornden Fellowship - has been praised as 'urgent, heartfelt, controlled and masterful' (Poetry London). His collections include Beneath Tremendous Rain (1990), At The Mountjoy Hotel (1993), On Whistler Mountain (1994), A Madder Ghost (Enitharmon, 1997), An English Nazareth (Enitharmon, 2004) and Hurt (Enitharmon, 2012). His translation of Rilke's Duino Elegies (Enitharmon, 2006) was shortlisted for the Corneliu Popescu Prize and chosen by the novelist Philip Pullman as one of his 40 favourite books.

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Book Info

Publication date

16th October 2012


Rainer Rilke

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Enitharmon Press


142 pages


Poetry by individual poets



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