The Unknown Rilke: Selected Poems

The Unknown Rilke: Selected Poems

The Unknown Rilke: Selected Poems

The Unknown Rilke: Selected Poems

Synopsis

Wright's brilliant translations of some of Rilke's neglected poems are now widely admired. They are here enhanced by an additional selection and a new introduction by the translator.

Excerpt

Franz Wright

In the course of his introduction to a new edition of Rimbaud Complete Poems, René Char says a wonderfully clear-sighted thing. Rimbaud, Char points out, was neither a seer nor a prophet nor a god: he was a poet, that is enough. I think the same might be said about Rilke, who surely shares with Rimbaud that peculiar power to attract mythologizing admirers. Poets usually exert this power without making any particular effort to do so, or without being aware of it -- though some have been quite conscious of it indeed. The assertion has been made, and with some justification, that Rilke is the greatest poet of our century -- but what does that mean? We should be guided by Char, who possessed a spirit sufficiently gifted and prescient to command our attention. Rilke is a very great poet, and that truly is enough.

Rilke's case is further complicated by the fact that those who are aware of him -- that is, those who have actually read and pondered his writings and those who like to use his name (almost as much as they enjoy adjectivizing Kafka's) tend, with amazing consistency, to fall into two categories: the one portraying him as a chaste and solitary high priest of art and prophet of the world's disgrace, the . . .

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