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Turning-point

Miscellaneous Poems 1912-1926

Rainer Maria Rilke

Translated by Michael Hamburger

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This title is available for academic inspection (paperback only).
Paperback
ISBN: 978 0 856463 53 2
Series: Poetica
Imprint: Anvil Press Poetry
Published: May 2003
216 x 138 x 6 mm
128 pages
Publisher: Carcanet Press
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    Narcissus

    Narcissus perished. From his beauty rose
    incessantly the nearness of his being,
    like scent of heliotrope that clings and cloys.
    But his one avocation was self-seeing.

    Whatever left him he loved back again,
    he whom the open wind could not contain;
    rapt, closed the round of reciprocity,
    annulled himself, and could no longer be.

    April 1913

     

    Ignorant I confront the heaven of my life,
    wondering at it, I stand. O the great stars.
    The rising and the going down. How still.
    As though I were not. Am I part of it?
    Or have I lost it, severed the pure influx?
    Does the same order make
    the high and low tides alternate in my blood?
    All craving I’ll discard, all other connection,
    attune my heart to its remotest wave.
    Much better to live in terror of its stars
    than seemingly pampered, soothed by a nearness.

    Spring 1913

    [Draft of a poem originally intended for the Duino Elegies]

    While Rilke has been perhaps more widely translated into English than any other modern poet, the emphasis has always been on ‘major works’ – the New Poems volumes, Duino Elegies and Sonnets to Orpheus. Yet Rilke produced many more poems which had little or no airing beyond the confines of his workshop. Michael Hamburger argues in his perceptive and entertaining introduction that these poems are not inferior to the poems in the collections that form the accepted corpus; rather that they merely failed to fit in with Rilke’s wish to form a definitive statement.

    First published under the title An Unofficial Rilke, Hamburger’s translations have been critically acclaimed for their contribution towards a more complete understanding of one of the major poets of the 20th century.

    Rainer Maria Rilke
    RAINER MARIA RILKE was born in Prague in 1875. Following an unhappy period spent at military academies, he studied a variety of subjects at the universities of Prague, Munich, and Berlin. It was in Munich that he first met Lou Andreas-Salomé, with whom he travelled to Russia in 1899 and 1900. ... read more
    Michael Hamburger
    Michael Hamburger (1924–2007) was a poet and critic of distinction as well as the outstanding translator of German poetry. His awards include the Schlegel-Tieck Prize (1981), the German Federal Republic’s Goethe Medal (1986) and the EC’s first European Translation Prize (1990) for Poems of Paul Celan . Five collections of his ... read more
    Praise for Rainer Maria Rilke 'Cohn has added a natural eloquence of his own which makes his version of the Elegies the most flowing and organic of those I have read.' - Peter Porter 'The reader with no German can enjoy this volume from beginning to end.' - Stephen Spender 'Rilke has never "moved" so naturally into another language as he seems to do in Stephen Cohn's renderings of these poems.' - John Bayley 'Cohn has added a natural eloquence of his own which makes his version of the Elegies the most flowing and organic of those I have read.' - Peter Porter 'Rilke has never "moved" so naturally into another language as he seems to do in Stephen Cohn's renderings of these poems.' - John Bayley 'The reader with no German can enjoy this volume from beginning to end.' - Stephen Spender Praise for Michael Hamburger 'O'Driscoll manages to get the reader as close to Hamburger as possible in one book. It feels very much like spending a week at your grandfather's house - getting to listen to all his stories, roaming through cupboards, reading the works hidden inside.'
    Dominik Szczepaniak, DURA
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