A Reader's Guide to Fifty Modern European Poets

By John Pilling | Go to book overview

Rainer Maria Rilke (1875-1926)

Born in Prague, the son of a retired officer in the Austrian army and a mother who, disappointed of a daughter, treated him as if he were a girl. Of a very refined sensibility from an early age, and deeply scarred by his educationat the Military School of St Pölten between 1886 and 1891, where he was frequently in poor health. Studied at the Commercial Academy in Linz until 1892, and then worked for his barrister uncle. Published his first volume of poems in 1894. Studied at the University of Prague in 1895-6, but by 1899 had decided on a career in literature rather than law. Visited Russia with Lou Andreas-Salomé in 1899 and in 1900, where he met Tolstoy; studied Russian history, literature and art on returning to Berlin. Married a young sculptress he had met in the artist's colony near Bremen in 1901. Became secretary to the sculptor Rodin in Paris in 1902-3 and thereafter lived apart from his wife. Remained based in Paris until 1914, though frequently resident for short periods in Scandinavia, Italy, Spain and North Africa, in great distress of spirit for much of the time. Made many friends among the aristocracy, in the castle of one of whom, at Duino near Trieste, he began the sequence of Elegies which were completed in 1922. Called up for military service in Vienna in 1915, where his health broke down; given clerical work and finally allowed to return to Munich. Spent his last years in Switzerland, widely regarded as the greatest poet to write in German since the death of Goethe. Died of leukaemia at Valmont, near Montreux.

'Ultimately,' Rilke wrote in a late letter,'each of us experiences

-97-

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A Reader's Guide to Fifty Modern European Poets
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 3
  • Contents 7
  • Preface 9
  • Charles Baudelaire (1821-67) 13
  • Stéphane Mallarmé (1842-98) 23
  • Paul Verlaine (1844-96) 32
  • Tristan Corbière (1845-75) 40
  • Arthur Rimbaud (1854-91) 47
  • Constantine Cavafy (1863-1933) 56
  • Stefan George (1868-1933) 64
  • Christian Morgenstern (1871-1914) 73
  • Paul Valéry (1871-1945) 80
  • Hugo Von Hofmannsthal (1874-1929) 88
  • Rainer Maria Rilke (1875-1926) 97
  • Antonio Machado (1875-1939) 108
  • Guillaume Apollinaire (1880-1918) 118
  • Aleksandr Blok (1880-1921) 127
  • Juan Ramón Jiménez (1881-1958) 136
  • Umberto Saba (1883-1957) 143
  • Dino Campana (1885-1932) 150
  • Gottfried Benn (1886-1956) 158
  • Georg Trakl (1887-1914) 166
  • Fernando Pessoa (1888-1935) 173
  • Giuseppe Ungaretti (1888-1970) 181
  • Pierre Reverdy (1889-1960) 190
  • Anna Akhmatova (1889-1966) 197
  • Boris Pasternak (1890-1960) 206
  • Osip Mandelstam (1891-1938 215
  • César Vallejo (1892-1938) 225
  • Marina Tsvetaeva (1892-1941) 234
  • Vladimir Mayakovsky (1893-1930) 243
  • Paul Éluard (1895-1952) 259
  • Eugenio Montale (1896-1981) 266
  • Federico Garcia Lorca (1898-1936) 276
  • Bertolt Brecht (1898-1956) 284
  • Jorge Luis Borges (born 1899) 292
  • George Seferis (1900-71 ) 301
  • Salvatore Quasimodo (1901-68) 308
  • Lucio Piccolo (1901-69) 316
  • Attila József (1902-37) 324
  • Pablo Neruda (1904-73) 333
  • René Char (born 1907) 344
  • Cesare Pavese (1908-50) 351
  • Yannis Ritsos (born 1909) 360
  • Octavio Paz (born 1914) 368
  • Johannes Bobrowski (1917-65) 376
  • Paul Celan (1920-70) 383
  • Vasko Popa (born 1922) 392
  • Yves Bonnefoy (born 1923) 400
  • Yehuda Amichai (born 1924) 408
  • Zbigniew Herbert (born 1924) 416
  • Joseph Brodsky (born 1940) 424
  • Bibliographies 432
  • Index 461
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