One of my latest ventures in poetic study is in the works of poet Rainer Maria Rilke (1875-1926). I first encountered Rilke’s work when I was in high school. A friend shared a photocopied piece, and I remember finding it beautiful and utterly incomprehensible, save for a few scraps of emotion bubbling at the surface. I remember a dichotomy of detachment and deep feeling in the words that resonated for me on first reading.
A couple months ago, I arrived about an hour early for my critique group meeting and found myself wandering the shelves at Borders, searching for ‘something.’ When I turned the corner in the poetry section, the name “Rilke” popped into my head, and I grabbed hold of The Essential Rilke, selected and translated from German by Galway Kinnell and Hannah Liebmann.
I know I still have that photocopy stuck in a book somewhere… It pops out every once in a while (alas, I cannot think of the poem’s title just now). If I can find it, I’ll reread it and share my thoughts. Also, I will be reading The Essential Rilke in coming months, and I’ll be sure to post when I have some reflections.
For now, I hope you will visit Poets.org where they have a page with information about Rilke, as well as a small selection of poems you can view including Archaic Torso of Apollo, Sonnet 6, and I Am Much Too Alone in This World, Yet Not Alone.
Please feel welcome to share your own thoughts and impressions of Rilke! Even if you’ve only just heard of him, take a minute to read a piece, and reflect. What do you like (or dislike) about his work?