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Ahead of All Parting: The Selected Poetry and Prose of Rainer Maria Rilke

par Rainer Maria Rilke

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413645,522 (4.7)2
The reputation of Rainer Maria Rilke has grown steadily since his death in 1926; today he is widely considered to be the greatest poet of the twentieth century. This Modern Library edition presents Stephen Mitchell's acclaimed translations of Rilke, which have won praise for their re-creation of the poet's rich formal music and depth of thought. "If Rilke had written in English," Denis Donoghue wrote in The New York Times Book Review, "he would have written in this English." Ahead of All Parting is an abundant selection of Rilke's lifework. It contains representative poems from his early collections The Book of Hours and The Book of Pictures; many selections from the revolutionary New Poems, which drew inspiration from Rodin and Cezanne; the hitherto little-known "Requiem for a Friend"; and a generous selection of the late uncollected poems, which constitute some of his finest work. Included too are passages from Rilke's influential novel, The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge, and nine of his brilliant uncollected prose pieces. Finally, the book presents the poet's two greatest masterpieces in their entirety: the Duino Elegies and The Sonnets to Orpheus. "Rilke's voice, with its extraordinary combination of formality, power, speed and lightness, can be heard in Mr. Mitchell's versions more clearly than in any others," said W. S. Merwin. "His work is masterful."… (plus d'informations)

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A very fine collection of poetry from the modern master Rainer Maria Rilke. I was a bit worried that I would not enjoy it, because I didn't much like translator Stephen Mitchell's selection of Pablo Neruda's poetry in Full Woman, Fleshly Apple, Hot Moon. In that Neruda collection, Mitchell explicitly states he chose his personal favourites and the book lacks comprehensiveness, as well as Mitchell's lines lacking the silver that I found in other translations. Happily, such criticisms could not be launched at Mitchell here: not only are his translations gorgeous at times, but the book does achieve comprehensiveness. The inclusion of the entirety of the Duino Elegies and The Sonnets to Orpheus is particularly welcome, and there are parts of the latter book which now rank as some of my favourite poems.

Rilke tackles some of the most pressing existential and philosophical questions of our time, not least the all-important search for meaning in a material world, and he does so in a way that is both complex (in structure) and simple (in the formulation of the words). This must surely be deliberate, for the observations he makes often suggest that the answers to such daunting, complex questions can sometimes be found in the simplest, clearest ways of thinking.

At first, I found some of the 'god' stuff rather unappealing, but particularly in The Sonnets to Orpheus, Rilke is evidently looking for an expansive spiritual connection to something which is unknown, rather than seeking the stricture of narrow religious dogma. This is evident in his book Letters to a Young Poet (not included here, but it is highly recommended) and, here, it is expressed most beautifully in Sonnets XXIV – XXVI of the First Part of The Sonnets to Orpheus, a mini cycle-within-a-cycle which captures the conflicting emotions – bursting vitality and directionless worry – of a progressing society which is coming to the realization that its gods are dead. Rilke speaks to our age. ( )
  Mike_F | Dec 31, 2017 |
Mitchell is a very able, poetic translator. From "The Sonnets to Orpheus": 'Song as you have taught it, is not desire, not wooing any grace that can be achieved; song is reality...Young man, it is not your loving, even if your mouth was forced wide open by your own voice - learn to forget that passionate music. It will end. True singing is a different breath, about nothing. A gust inside the god. A wind.' ( )
  dbsovereign | Jan 26, 2016 |
Rilke is the most personal of poets, and this dense volume is always close at hand. I love looking at the origianal German and the English translation side by side. At least I can get a sense of the orginal rhythm and rhyme.Modern, yet romantic and lyrical. ( )
  DaleCropper | Jun 24, 2011 |
This is probably my "desert island" book. This book has literally kept me breathing at times. Mitchell's translations of Rilke's works are transcendent, impeccable. I will pick up this book until I can no longer hold a book in my hands. ( )
1 voter tinyfishes | Feb 1, 2007 |
By far the best collection and best English translation of Rilke's works. ( )
  dreamingtereza | Jan 18, 2006 |
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This Modern Library hardcover edition has a larger selection than that in the Vintage paperback edition. It contains more poems, a complete translation of The Sonnets to Orpheus, and some prose pieces. Please do not combine the two.
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The reputation of Rainer Maria Rilke has grown steadily since his death in 1926; today he is widely considered to be the greatest poet of the twentieth century. This Modern Library edition presents Stephen Mitchell's acclaimed translations of Rilke, which have won praise for their re-creation of the poet's rich formal music and depth of thought. "If Rilke had written in English," Denis Donoghue wrote in The New York Times Book Review, "he would have written in this English." Ahead of All Parting is an abundant selection of Rilke's lifework. It contains representative poems from his early collections The Book of Hours and The Book of Pictures; many selections from the revolutionary New Poems, which drew inspiration from Rodin and Cezanne; the hitherto little-known "Requiem for a Friend"; and a generous selection of the late uncollected poems, which constitute some of his finest work. Included too are passages from Rilke's influential novel, The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge, and nine of his brilliant uncollected prose pieces. Finally, the book presents the poet's two greatest masterpieces in their entirety: the Duino Elegies and The Sonnets to Orpheus. "Rilke's voice, with its extraordinary combination of formality, power, speed and lightness, can be heard in Mr. Mitchell's versions more clearly than in any others," said W. S. Merwin. "His work is masterful."

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