Rainer Maria Rilke  

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"As long as you catch what you yourself have thrown"


"For beauty is nothing but the beginning of terror."--Duino Elegies (1923) by Rainer Maria Rilke

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Rainer Maria Rilke (4 December 1875 – 29 December 1926) was a BohemianAustrian poet. He is considered one of the most significant poets in the German language. His haunting images focus on the difficulty of communion with the ineffable in an age of disbelief, solitude, and profound anxiety: themes that tend to position him as a transitional figure between the traditional and the modernist poets.

He wrote in both verse and a highly lyrical prose. Among English-language readers, his best-known work is the Duino Elegies; his two most famous prose works are the Letters to a Young Poet and the semi-autobiographical The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge. He also wrote more than 400 poems in French, dedicated to his homeland of choice, the canton of Valais in Switzerland. His writings include one novel, several collections of poetry and several volumes of correspondence in which he invokes images that focus on the difficulty of communion with the ineffable in an age of disbelief, solitude and anxiety. These themes position him as a transitional figure between traditional and modernist writers.

Rilke travelled extensively throughout Europe (including Russia, Spain, Germany, France and Italy) and, in his later years, settled in Switzerland – settings that were key to the genesis and inspiration for many of his poems. While Rilke is most known for his contributions to German literature, over 400 poems were originally written in French and dedicated to the canton of Valais in Switzerland. Among English-language readers, his best-known works include the poetry collections Duino Elegies and Sonnets to Orpheus, the semi-autobiographical novel The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge, and a collection of ten letters that was published after his death under the title Letters to a Young Poet. In the later 20th century, his work found new audiences through use by New Age theologians and self-help authors and frequent quotations by television programs, books and motion pictures. In the United States, Rilke remains among the more popular, best-selling poets.


English translations

As of 2020, only the Jessie Lamont appears to be in the public domain.





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