Rainer Maria Rilke
Overview
 
René Karl Wilhelm Johann Josef Maria Rilke (German pronunciation: [ˈʁaɪnɐ maˈʁiːa ˈʁɪlkə
International Phonetic Alphabet
The International Phonetic Alphabet "The acronym 'IPA' strictly refers [...] to the 'International Phonetic Association'. But it is now such a common practice to use the acronym also to refer to the alphabet itself that resistance seems pedantic...

]; 4 December 1875 – 29 December 1926), better known as Rainer Maria Rilke, was a Bohemia
Bohemia
Bohemia is a historical region in central Europe, occupying the western two-thirds of the traditional Czech Lands. It is located in the contemporary Czech Republic with its capital in Prague...

n–Austrian
Austria-Hungary
Austria-Hungary , more formally known as the Kingdoms and Lands Represented in the Imperial Council and the Lands of the Holy Hungarian Crown of Saint Stephen, was a constitutional monarchic union between the crowns of the Austrian Empire and the Kingdom of Hungary in...

 poet. He is considered one of the most significant poets in the German language. His haunting images focus on the difficulty of communion with the ineffable in an age of disbelief, solitude, and profound anxiety: themes that tend to position him as a transitional figure between the traditional and the modernist
Modernism
Modernism, in its broadest definition, is modern thought, character, or practice. More specifically, the term describes the modernist movement, its set of cultural tendencies and array of associated cultural movements, originally arising from wide-scale and far-reaching changes to Western society...

 poets.

He wrote in both verse and a highly lyrical prose.
Quotations

Just as language has no longer anything in common with the thing it names, so the movements of most of the people who live in cities have lost their connexion with the earth; they hang, as it were, in the air, hover in all directions, and find no place where they can settle.

Worpswede (1903)

Du im Vorausverlorne Geliebte, Nimmergekommene,nicht weiß ich, welche Töne dir lieb sind.Nicht mehr versuch ich, dich, wenn das Kommende wogt,zu erkennen.

You who never arrived in my arms, Beloved, who were lost from the start, I don't even know what songs would please you. I have given up trying to recognize you in the surging wave of the next moment.

I am much too alone in this world, yet not aloneenoughto truly consecrate the hour.I am much too small in this world, yet not smallenoughto be to you just object and thing,dark and smart.I want my free will and want it accompanyingthe path which leads to action;and want during times that beg questions,where something is up,to be among those in the know,or else be alone.

I Am Much Too Alone in This World, Yet Not Alone, st. 1 (as translated by Annemarie S. Kidder)

The work of the eyes is done. Go now and do the heart-work on the images imprisoned within you.

Wendung (Turning Point) (as translated by Stephen Mitchell)

He was a poet and hated the approximate.

The Journal of My Other Self

Death is the dies of life which is turned away from us.

Letter to W. von Hulewicz

Make your ego porous. Will is of little importance, complaining is nothing, fame is nothing. Openness, patience, receptivity, solitude is everything.

As quoted in Sunbeams : A Book of Quotations (1990) by Sy Safransky, p. 42

Everywhere I am folded, there I am a lie.

As quoted in News of the Universe : Poems of Twofold Consciousness (1995) by Robert W. Bly, p. 125

Encyclopedia
René Karl Wilhelm Johann Josef Maria Rilke (German pronunciation: [ˈʁaɪnɐ maˈʁiːa ˈʁɪlkə
International Phonetic Alphabet
The International Phonetic Alphabet "The acronym 'IPA' strictly refers [...] to the 'International Phonetic Association'. But it is now such a common practice to use the acronym also to refer to the alphabet itself that resistance seems pedantic...

]; 4 December 1875 – 29 December 1926), better known as Rainer Maria Rilke, was a Bohemia
Bohemia
Bohemia is a historical region in central Europe, occupying the western two-thirds of the traditional Czech Lands. It is located in the contemporary Czech Republic with its capital in Prague...

n–Austrian
Austria-Hungary
Austria-Hungary , more formally known as the Kingdoms and Lands Represented in the Imperial Council and the Lands of the Holy Hungarian Crown of Saint Stephen, was a constitutional monarchic union between the crowns of the Austrian Empire and the Kingdom of Hungary in...

 poet. He is considered one of the most significant poets in the German language. His haunting images focus on the difficulty of communion with the ineffable in an age of disbelief, solitude, and profound anxiety: themes that tend to position him as a transitional figure between the traditional and the modernist
Modernism
Modernism, in its broadest definition, is modern thought, character, or practice. More specifically, the term describes the modernist movement, its set of cultural tendencies and array of associated cultural movements, originally arising from wide-scale and far-reaching changes to Western society...

 poets.

He wrote in both verse and a highly lyrical prose. Among English-language readers, his best-known work is the Duino Elegies
Duino Elegies
The Duino Elegies are a set of ten elegies written in German by the poet Rainer Maria Rilke from 1912 to 1922. They are frequently referred to as Rilke's most acclaimed poetic work.-Presentation:...

; his two most famous prose works are the Letters to a Young Poet
Letters to a Young Poet
Letters to a Young Poet is a compilation of letters by Rainer Maria Rilke. It consists of 10 letters written to a young man trying to choose between a literary career and entering the Austro-Hungarian Army.-Background:...

and the semi-autobiographical Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge
The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge
The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge was Rainer Maria Rilke's only novel. It was written while Rilke lived in Paris, and was published in 1910. The novel is semi-autobiographical, and is written in an expressionistic style...

. He also wrote more than 400 poems in French, dedicated to his homeland of choice, the canton
Cantons of Switzerland
The 26 cantons of Switzerland are the member states of the federal state of Switzerland. Each canton was a fully sovereign state with its own borders, army and currency from the Treaty of Westphalia until the establishment of the Swiss federal state in 1848...

 of Valais
Valais
The Valais is one of the 26 cantons of Switzerland in the southwestern part of the country, around the valley of the Rhône from its headwaters to Lake Geneva, separating the Pennine Alps from the Bernese Alps. The canton is one of the drier parts of Switzerland in its central Rhône valley...

 in Switzerland.

1875–1896

He was born René Karl Wilhelm Johann Josef Maria Rilke in Prague
Prague
Prague is the capital and largest city of the Czech Republic. Situated in the north-west of the country on the Vltava river, the city is home to about 1.3 million people, while its metropolitan area is estimated to have a population of over 2.3 million...

, capital of Bohemia (then part of Austria-Hungary
Austria-Hungary
Austria-Hungary , more formally known as the Kingdoms and Lands Represented in the Imperial Council and the Lands of the Holy Hungarian Crown of Saint Stephen, was a constitutional monarchic union between the crowns of the Austrian Empire and the Kingdom of Hungary in...

, now the Czech Republic). His childhood and youth in Prague were not especially happy. His father, Josef Rilke (1838–1906), became a railway official after an unsuccessful military career. His mother, Sophie ("Phia") Entz (1851–1931), came from a well-to-do Prague family, the Entz-Kinzelbergers, who lived in a house on the Herrengasse (Panská) 8, where René also spent many of his early years. The relationship between Phia and her only son was colored by her mourning for a prior child, a daughter, who had died after only a week of life. During Rilke's early years Phia acted as if she sought to recover the lost girl through the boy by dressing him in girl's clothing. The parents' marriage fell apart in 1884. His parents pressured the poetically and artistically talented youth into entering a military academy, which he attended from 1886 until 1891, when he left due to illness. From 1892 to 1895 he was tutored for the university entrance exam, which he passed in 1895. In 1895 and 1896, he studied literature, art history, and philosophy in Prague and Munich
Munich
Munich The city's motto is "" . Before 2006, it was "Weltstadt mit Herz" . Its native name, , is derived from the Old High German Munichen, meaning "by the monks' place". The city's name derives from the monks of the Benedictine order who founded the city; hence the monk depicted on the city's coat...

.

1897–1902

In 1897 in Munich, Rainer Maria Rilke met and fell in love with the widely traveled, intellectual woman of letters Lou Andreas-Salomé
Lou Andreas-Salomé
Lou Andreas-Salomé was a Russian-born psychoanalyst and author. Her diverse intellectual interests led to friendships with a broad array of distinguished western luminaries, including Nietzsche, Wagner, Freud, and Rilke.- Early years :Lou Salomé was born in St...

. Rilke changed his first name from "René" to "Rainer" at Lou's urging because she thought that name more masculine, forceful, and Germanic. His relationship with this married woman, with whom he undertook two extensive trips to Russia, lasted until 1900. But even after their separation, Lou continued to be Rilke's most important confidante until the end of his life. Having trained from 1912 to 1913 as a psychoanalyst
Psychoanalysis
Psychoanalysis is a psychological theory developed in the late 19th and early 20th centuries by Austrian neurologist Sigmund Freud. Psychoanalysis has expanded, been criticized and developed in different directions, mostly by some of Freud's former students, such as Alfred Adler and Carl Gustav...

 with Sigmund Freud
Sigmund Freud
Sigmund Freud , born Sigismund Schlomo Freud , was an Austrian neurologist who founded the discipline of psychoanalysis...

, she shared her knowledge of psychoanalysis with Rilke.

In 1898, Rilke undertook a journey lasting several weeks to Italy. In 1899, he traveled with Lou and her husband, Friedrich Andreas, to Moscow where he met the novelist Leo Tolstoy
Leo Tolstoy
Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy was a Russian writer who primarily wrote novels and short stories. Later in life, he also wrote plays and essays. His two most famous works, the novels War and Peace and Anna Karenina, are acknowledged as two of the greatest novels of all time and a pinnacle of realist...

. Between May and August 1900, a second journey to Russia, accompanied only by Lou, again took him to Moscow and Saint Petersburg
Saint Petersburg
Saint Petersburg is a city and a federal subject of Russia located on the Neva River at the head of the Gulf of Finland on the Baltic Sea...

, where he met the family of Boris Pasternak
Boris Pasternak
Boris Leonidovich Pasternak was a Russian language poet, novelist, and literary translator. In his native Russia, Pasternak's anthology My Sister Life, is one of the most influential collections ever published in the Russian language...

 and Spiridon Drozhzhin
Spiridon Drozhzhin
-Biography:Drozhzhin was born in the village of Nizovka, part of what is now Tver Oblast. His poems were first published in 1873. The son of a serf, he earned renown as a talented self-educated poet. He welcomed the October Revolution, which he saw as the realization of the people's hopes and...

, a peasant poet. Later, "Rilke called two places his home: Bohemia and Russia".

In autumn 1900, Rilke stayed at the artists' colony at Worpswede
Worpswede
Worpswede is a municipality in the district of Osterholz, in Lower Saxony, Germany. It is situated in the Teufelsmoor, northeast of Bremen. The small town itself is located near the Weyerberg hill. It has been the home to a lively artistic community since the end of the 19th century, with over 130...

. (Later, his portrait would be painted by the proto-expressionist Paula Modersohn-Becker
Paula Modersohn-Becker
Paula Modersohn-Becker was a German painter and one of the most important representatives of early expressionism. In a brief career, cut short by an embolism at the age of 31, she created a number of groundbreaking images of great intensity.-Life and work:Paula Becker was born and grew up in...

, whom he got to know at Worpswede.) It was here that he got to know the sculptor Clara Westhoff
Clara Westhoff
Clara Westhoff was a sculptress and the wife of poet Rainer Maria Rilke.At the early age of 17 Clara Westhoff went to Munich where she attended a private art school. In 1898 she moved to Worpswede and learned sculpture with Fritz Mackensen...

, whom he married the following spring. Their daughter Ruth (1901–1972) was born in December 1901. In the summer of 1902, Rilke left home and traveled to Paris to write a monograph
Monograph
A monograph is a work of writing upon a single subject, usually by a single author.It is often a scholarly essay or learned treatise, and may be released in the manner of a book or journal article. It is by definition a single document that forms a complete text in itself...

 on the sculptor Auguste Rodin
Auguste Rodin
François-Auguste-René Rodin , known as Auguste Rodin , was a French sculptor. Although Rodin is generally considered the progenitor of modern sculpture, he did not set out to rebel against the past...

. Before long his wife left their daughter with her parents and joined Rilke there. The relationship between Rilke and Clara Westhoff continued for the rest of his life; a mutually agreed-upon effort at divorce was bureaucratically hindered by Rilke's "official" status as a Catholic, though he was the very opposite of observant.

1902–1910

At first, Rilke had a difficult time in Paris, an experience that he called on in the first part of his only novel, The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge
The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge
The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge was Rainer Maria Rilke's only novel. It was written while Rilke lived in Paris, and was published in 1910. The novel is semi-autobiographical, and is written in an expressionistic style...

. At the same time, his encounter with modernism was very stimulating: Rilke became deeply involved in the sculpture of Rodin, and then with the work of Paul Cézanne
Paul Cézanne
Paul Cézanne was a French artist and Post-Impressionist painter whose work laid the foundations of the transition from the 19th century conception of artistic endeavour to a new and radically different world of art in the 20th century. Cézanne can be said to form the bridge between late 19th...

. For a time he acted as Rodin's secretary, also lecturing and writing a long essay on Rodin and his work. Rodin taught him the value of objective observation, and under this influence Rilke dramatically transformed his poetic style from the subjective and sometimes incantatory language of his earlier work into something quite new in European literature. The result was the New Poems, famous for the "thing-poems" expressing Rilke's rejuvenated artistic vision. The poems of the New Poems and New Poems: The Other Part are highly wrought, using language and poetic form as a shaped and shaping material; to this extent the poems are often said to be "things" in themselves. During these years, Paris increasingly became the writer's main residence.

The most important works of the Paris period were Neue Gedichte (New Poems) (1907), Der Neuen Gedichte Anderer Teil (Another Part of the New Poems) (1908), the two "Requiem" poems (1909), and the novel The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge, started in 1904 and completed in January 1910. The Swedish author Mirjam Tapper has edited a book on Rilke's stay in Paris, where she reflected on the many addresses Rilke lived at and tried to find the correlation between his stay there and his poems. The title of the book: Resa med Rilke (Travel with Rilke), Mita bokförlag 2010. A chapter in the book also deals with Rilke's sickness and death.

During the later part of this decade Rilke spent extended periods in Ronda, the famous bull-fighting center in southern Spain. There he kept a permanent room at the Hotel Reina Victoria (built in 1906) where his room remains to this day as he left it, a mini-museum of Rilkeana. According to the hotel's publicity, Rilke wrote (though probably not in Spanish) "He buscado por todas partes la ciudad soñada, y al fin la he encontrado en Ronda" and "No hay nada más inesperado en España que esta ciudad salvaje y montañera" ("I have sought everywhere the city of my dreams, and I have finally found it in Ronda" and "There is nothing that is more startling in Spain than this wild and mountainous city.")

1910–1919

Between October 1911 and May 1912, Rilke stayed at the Castle Duino
Duino
Duino is a town at the Adriatic coast in the municipality of Duino-Aurisina, part of the region of Friuli – Venezia Giulia in the province of Trieste, north-eastern Italy....

, near Trieste
Trieste
Trieste is a city and seaport in northeastern Italy. It is situated towards the end of a narrow strip of land lying between the Adriatic Sea and Italy's border with Slovenia, which lies almost immediately south and east of the city...

, home of Princess Marie of Thurn und Taxis
Thurn und Taxis
The Princely House of Thurn and Taxis is a German family that was a key player in the postal services in Europe in the 16th century and is well known as owners of breweries and builders of many castles.- History :...

. There, in 1912, he began the poem cycle called the Duino Elegies
Duino Elegies
The Duino Elegies are a set of ten elegies written in German by the poet Rainer Maria Rilke from 1912 to 1922. They are frequently referred to as Rilke's most acclaimed poetic work.-Presentation:...

, which would remain unfinished for a decade because of a long-lasting creativity crisis. The outbreak of World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

 surprised Rilke during a stay in Germany. He was unable to return to Paris, where his property was confiscated and auctioned. He spent the greater part of the war in Munich. From 1914 to 1916 he had a turbulent affair with the painter Lou Albert-Lasard
Lou Albert-Lasard
Lou Albert-Lasard was a painter.In 1914-1916, she had an affair with Austrian poet Rainer Maria Rilke....

. Rilke was called up at the beginning of 1916, and he had to undertake basic training in Vienna. Influential friends interceded on his behalf, and he was transferred to the War Records Office and discharged from the military on 9 June 1916. He spent the subsequent time once again in Munich, interrupted by a stay on Hertha Koenig's Gut Bockel in Westphalia. The traumatic experience of military service, a reminder of the horrors of the military academy, almost completely silenced him as a poet.

1919–1926

On 11 June 1919, Rilke traveled from Munich to Switzerland. The outward motive was an invitation to lecture in Zürich, but the real reason was the wish to escape the post-war chaos and take up his work on the Duino Elegies once again. The search for a suitable and affordable place to live proved to be very difficult. Among other places, Rilke lived in Soglio, Locarno
Locarno
Locarno is the capital of the Locarno district, located on the northern tip of Lake Maggiore in the Swiss canton of Ticino, close to Ascona at the foot of the Alps. It has a population of about 15,000...

, and Berg am Irchel. Only in mid-1921 was he able to find a permanent residence in the Chateau de Muzot in the commune of Veyras, close to Sierre
Sierre
Sierre is the capital of the district of Sierre in the canton of Valais in Switzerland. It has a population of 14,355.It is situated on the French–German language border of the canton of Wallis...

 in Valais. In an intense creative period, Rilke completed the Duino Elegies within several weeks in February 1922. Before and after, Rilke rapidly wrote both parts of the poem cycle Sonnets to Orpheus
Sonnets to Orpheus
The Sonnets to Orpheus are a cycle of sonnets written by German-language poet Rainer Maria Rilke in 1922. He dedicated them as a memorial for Wera Ouckama Knoop , a playmate of Rilke's daughter Ruth.-Form and style:There are 55 sonnets in the sequence, divided into two sections: the first of 26...

containing 55 entire sonnets. Both works together have often been taken as constituting the high points of Rilke's work. In May 1922, Rilke's patron Werner Reinhart
Werner Reinhart
Werner Reinhart was a Swiss industrialist, philanthropist, amateur clarinetist, and patron of composers and writers, particularly Igor Stravinsky and Rainer Maria Rilke...

 bought and renovated Muzot so that Rilke could live there rent-free.

During this time, Reinhart introduced Rilke to his protégée, the Australian violinist Alma Moodie
Alma Moodie
Alma Templeton Moodie was an Australian violinist who established an excellent reputation in Germany in the 1920s and 1930s. She was regarded as the foremost female violinist during the inter-war years, and she premiered violin concertos by Kurt Atterberg, Hans Pfitzner and Ernst Krenek...

. Rilke was so impressed with her playing that he wrote in a letter: "What a sound, what richness, what determination. That and the Sonnets to Orpheus, those were two strings of the same voice. And she plays mostly Bach
Bạch
Bạch is a Vietnamese surname. The name is transliterated as Bai in Chinese and Baek, in Korean.Bach is the anglicized variation of the surname Bạch.-Notable people with the surname Bạch:* Bạch Liêu...

! Muzot has received its musical christening..."
From 1923 on, Rilke increasingly had to struggle with health problems that necessitated many long stays at a sanatorium
Sanatorium
A sanatorium is a medical facility for long-term illness, most typically associated with treatment of tuberculosis before antibiotics...

 in Territet, near Montreux
Montreux
Montreux is a municipality in the district of Riviera-Pays-d'Enhaut in the canton of Vaud in Switzerland.It is located on Lake Geneva at the foot of the Alps and has a population, , of and nearly 90,000 in the agglomeration.- History :...

, on Lake Geneva
Lake Geneva
Lake Geneva or Lake Léman is a lake in Switzerland and France. It is one of the largest lakes in Western Europe. 59.53 % of it comes under the jurisdiction of Switzerland , and 40.47 % under France...

. His long stay in Paris between January and August 1925 was an attempt to escape his illness through a change in location and living conditions. Despite this, numerous important individual poems appeared in the years 1923–1926 (including Gong and Mausoleum), as well as the abundant lyrical work in French.

In January and February 1926 Rilke wrote three letters to the Mussolini-adversary Aurelia Gallarati-Scotti, in which he praised Benito Mussolini
Benito Mussolini
Benito Amilcare Andrea Mussolini was an Italian politician who led the National Fascist Party and is credited with being one of the key figures in the creation of Fascism....

 and described fascism as a healing agent.

Only shortly before his death was Rilke's illness diagnosed as leukemia
Leukemia
Leukemia or leukaemia is a type of cancer of the blood or bone marrow characterized by an abnormal increase of immature white blood cells called "blasts". Leukemia is a broad term covering a spectrum of diseases...

. He suffered ulcerous sores in his mouth, pain troubled his stomach and intestines and he struggled with increasingly low spirits. Open-eyed, he died in the arms of his doctor on December 29, 1926 in the Valmont Sanatorium in Switzerland. He was buried on 2 January 1927 in the Raron
Raron
Raron is a municipality in the district of Raron in the canton of Valais in Switzerland.-History:Raron is first mentioned around 1101-1200 as Rarogni...

 cemetery to the west of Visp
Visp
Visp is the capital of the district of Visp in the canton of Valais in Switzerland.-Geography:Visp has an area, , of . Of this area, 17.0% is used for agricultural purposes, while 59.7% is forested...

.Excerpt from "Reading Rilke – Reflections on the Problems of Translation" by William H. Gass (1999) ISBN 0375403124; featured in The New York Times
The New York Times
The New York Times is an American daily newspaper founded and continuously published in New York City since 1851. The New York Times has won 106 Pulitzer Prizes, the most of any news organization...

2000. Accessed 18 August 2010


Rilke had chosen as his own epitaph this poem:
Rose, oh reiner Widerspruch, Lust,
Niemandes Schlaf zu sein unter soviel
Lidern.

Rose, oh pure contradiction, delight
of being no one's sleep under so
many lids.


A myth developed surrounding his death and roses, which we see as a constant motif
Motif (narrative)
In narrative, a motif is any recurring element that has symbolic significance in a story. Through its repetition, a motif can help produce other narrative aspects such as theme or mood....

 in his work. It was said: "To honour a visitor, the Egyptian beauty Nimet Eloui, Rilke [had] gathered some roses from his garden. While doing so, he pricked his hand on a thorn. This small wound failed to heal, grew rapidly worse, soon his entire arm was swollen, and his other arm became affected as well", and so he died.

Rilke's literary style

Figures from Greek mythology (e.g. Apollo
Apollo
Apollo is one of the most important and complex of the Olympian deities in Greek and Roman mythology...

, Hermes
Hermes
Hermes is the great messenger of the gods in Greek mythology and a guide to the Underworld. Hermes was born on Mount Kyllini in Arcadia. An Olympian god, he is also the patron of boundaries and of the travelers who cross them, of shepherds and cowherds, of the cunning of thieves, of orators and...

, Orpheus
Orpheus
Orpheus was a legendary musician, poet, and prophet in ancient Greek religion and myth. The major stories about him are centered on his ability to charm all living things and even stones with his music; his attempt to retrieve his wife from the underworld; and his death at the hands of those who...

) recur as motifs in his poems and are depicted in original interpretations (e.g. in the poem Orpheus. Eurydice. Hermes, Rilke's Eurydice
Eurydice
Eurydice in Greek mythology, was an oak nymph or one of the daughters of Apollo . She was the wife of Orpheus, who loved her dearly; on their wedding day, he played joyful songs as his bride danced through the meadow. One day, a satyr saw and pursued Eurydice, who stepped on a venomous snake,...

, numbed and dazed by death, does not recognize her lover Orpheus, who descended to hell to recover her). Other recurring figures in Rilke's poems are angel
Angel
Angels are mythical beings often depicted as messengers of God in the Hebrew and Christian Bibles along with the Quran. The English word angel is derived from the Greek ἄγγελος, a translation of in the Hebrew Bible ; a similar term, ملائكة , is used in the Qur'an...

s, rose
Rose
A rose is a woody perennial of the genus Rosa, within the family Rosaceae. There are over 100 species. They form a group of erect shrubs, and climbing or trailing plants, with stems that are often armed with sharp prickles. Flowers are large and showy, in colours ranging from white through yellows...

s and a character of a poet and his creative work.

Rilke often worked with metaphor
Metaphor
A metaphor is a literary figure of speech that uses an image, story or tangible thing to represent a less tangible thing or some intangible quality or idea; e.g., "Her eyes were glistening jewels." Metaphor may also be used for any rhetorical figures of speech that achieve their effects via...

s, metonymy
Metonymy
Metonymy is a figure of speech used in rhetoric in which a thing or concept is not called by its own name, but by the name of something intimately associated with that thing or concept...

 and contradiction
Contradiction
In classical logic, a contradiction consists of a logical incompatibility between two or more propositions. It occurs when the propositions, taken together, yield two conclusions which form the logical, usually opposite inversions of each other...

s (e.g. in his epitaph, the rose is a symbol of sleep – rose petals are reminiscent of closed eyelids).

Rilke's little-known 1898 poem, "Visions of Christ" depicted Mary Magdalene
Mary Magdalene
Mary Magdalene was one of Jesus' most celebrated disciples, and the most important woman disciple in the movement of Jesus. Jesus cleansed her of "seven demons", conventionally interpreted as referring to complex illnesses...

 as the mother to Jesus' child.

Quoting Susan Haskins: "It was Rilke's explicit belief that Christ was not divine, was entirely human, and deified only on Calvary
Calvary
Calvary or Golgotha was the site, outside of ancient Jerusalem’s early first century walls, at which the crucifixion of Jesus is said to have occurred. Calvary and Golgotha are the English names for the site used in Western Christianity...

, expressed in an unpublished poem of 1893, and referred to in other poems of the same period, which allowed him to portray Christ's love for Mary Magdalen, though remarkable, as entirely human."

Complete works

  • Rainer Maria Rilke, Sämtliche Werke in 12 Bänden (Complete Works in 12 Volumes), published by Rilke Archive in association with Ruth Sieber-Rilke, edited by Ernst Zinn. Frankfurt am Main (1976)
  • Rainer Maria Rilke, Werke (Works). Annotated edition in four volumes with supplementary fifth volume, published by Manfred Engel, Ulrich Fülleborn, Dorothea Lauterbach, Horst Nalewski and August Stahl. Frankfurt am Main and Leipzig (1996 and 2003)

Volumes of poetry

  • Leben und Lieder (Life and Songs) (1894)
  • Larenopfer (Lares
    Lares
    Lares , archaically Lases, were guardian deities in ancient Roman religion. Their origin is uncertain; they may have been guardians of the hearth, fields, boundaries or fruitfulness, hero-ancestors, or an amalgam of these....

    ' Sacrifice)
    (1895)
  • Traumgekrönt (Dream-Crowned) (1897)
  • Advent (Advent) (1898)
  • Das Stunden-Buch (The Book of Hours)
    • Das Buch vom mönchischen Leben (The Book of Monastic Life) (1899)
    • Das Buch von der Pilgerschaft (The Book of Pilgrimage) (1901)
    • Geldbaum (1901)
    • Das Buch von der Armut und vom Tode (The Book of Poverty and Death) (1903)
  • Das Buch der Bilder (The Book of Images) (4 Parts, 1902–1906)
  • Neue Gedichte (New Poems) (1907)
  • Duineser Elegien (Duino Elegies
    Duino Elegies
    The Duino Elegies are a set of ten elegies written in German by the poet Rainer Maria Rilke from 1912 to 1922. They are frequently referred to as Rilke's most acclaimed poetic work.-Presentation:...

    ) (1922)
  • Sonette an Orpheus (Sonnets to Orpheus
    Sonnets to Orpheus
    The Sonnets to Orpheus are a cycle of sonnets written by German-language poet Rainer Maria Rilke in 1922. He dedicated them as a memorial for Wera Ouckama Knoop , a playmate of Rilke's daughter Ruth.-Form and style:There are 55 sonnets in the sequence, divided into two sections: the first of 26...

    ) (1922)

Prose collections

  • Geschichten vom Lieben Gott (Stories of God) (Collection of tales, 1900)
  • Auguste Rodin (1903)
  • Die Weise von Liebe und Tod des Cornets Christoph Rilke (The Lay of the Love and Death of Cornet Christoph Rilke) (Lyric story, 1906)
  • Die Aufzeichnungen des Malte Laurids Brigge (The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge
    The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge
    The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge was Rainer Maria Rilke's only novel. It was written while Rilke lived in Paris, and was published in 1910. The novel is semi-autobiographical, and is written in an expressionistic style...

    ) (Novel, 1910)

Letters

Collected letters
  • Gesammelte Briefe in sechs Bänden (Collected Letters in Six Volumes), published by Ruth Sieber-Rilke and Carl Sieber. Leipzig (1936–1939)
  • Briefe (Letters), published by the Rilke Archive in Weimar. Two volumes, Wiesbaden (1950, reprinted 1987 in single volume).
  • Briefe in Zwei Bänden (Letters in Two Volumes) (Horst Nalewski, Frankfurt and Leipzig, 1991)


Other volumes of letters
  • Briefe an Auguste Rodin (Insel Verlag, 1928)
  • Briefwechsel mit Marie von Thurn und Taxis, two volumes, edited by Ernst Zinn with a forward by Rudolf Kassner (Editions Max Niehans, 1954)
  • Briefwechsel mit Thankmar von Münchhausen 1913 bis 1925 (Suhrkamp Insel Verlag, 2004)
  • Briefwechsel mit Rolf von Ungern-Sternberg und weitere Dokumente zur Übertragung der Stances von Jean Moréas (Suhrkamp Insel Verlag, 2002)

Collections

  • Rainer Maria Rilke, Duino Elegies and The Sonnets To Orpheus translated by A. Poulin, Jr. (Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, 1975) ISBN 0-395-25058-7
  • The Selected Poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke, ed. and trans. Stephen Mitchell, Introduction by Robert Hass (Vintage; Reissue edition 13 March 1989)
  • Selected Poems of Rainer Maria Rilke, ed. and trans. Robert Bly
    Robert Bly
    Robert Bly is an American poet, author, activist and leader of the Mythopoetic Men's Movement.-Life:Bly was born in Lac qui Parle County, Minnesota, to Jacob and Alice Bly, who were of Norwegian ancestry. Following graduation from high school in 1944, he enlisted in the United States Navy, serving...

     New York, 1981
  • The Unknown Rilke, trans. Franz Wright (Oberlin College Press, expanded ed. 1990) ISBN 0-932440-56-8
  • New Poems/Neue Gedichte, trans. Stephen Cohn (Carcanet Press
    Carcanet Press
    Carcanet Press is a publisher, primarily of poetry, based in the United Kingdom and founded in 1969 by Michael Schmidt.Carcanet Press is now in its fourth decade. In 2000 it was named the Sunday Times millennium Small Publisher of the Year...

    , 1992) ISBN 1857547705
  • The Book of Fresh Beginnings: Selected Poems, trans. David Young (Oberlin College Press, 1994) ISBN 0-932440-68-1
  • The Essential Rilke, ed. and trans. Galway Kinnell
    Galway Kinnell
    Galway Kinnell is an American poet. He was Poet Laureate of Vermont from 1989 to 1993. An admitted follower of Walt Whitman, Kinnell rejects the idea of seeking fulfillment by escaping into the imaginary world. His best-loved and most anthologized poems are "St...

     and Hannah Liebmann (Hopewell, NJ, 1999)
  • Uncollected Poems, trans. Edward Snow (North Point Press, New York, 1996)
  • The Poetry of Rilke, trans. Edward Snow (North Point Press, New York, 2009)
  • Two Prague Stories, trans. Isabel Cole (Vitalis, Český Těšín, 2002)
  • Pictures of God: Rilke's Religious Poetry, ed. and trans. Annemarie S. Kidder (Livonia, MI 2005)
  • Duino Elegies, Sonnets to Orpheus, Letters to a young poet: Box set, ed. and trans. Stephen Mitchell
  • "Rilke's Late Poetry: Duino Elegies, The Sonnets to Orpheus, and Selected Last Poems", ed. and trans. Graham Good (Ronsdale Press, Vancouver B.C., 2005)
  • Mood, John Rilke on Love and Other Difficulties. (New York: W. W. Norton 1975, reissue 2004) ISBN 0393310981
  • Mood, John. (2006) Rilke on Death and Other Oddities. Philadelphia: Xlibris ISBN 1425728189

Duino Elegies

  • Duineser Elegien: Elegies from the Castle of Duino, trans. Vita Sackville-West
    Vita Sackville-West
    The Hon Victoria Mary Sackville-West, Lady Nicolson, CH , best known as Vita Sackville-West, was an English author, poet and gardener. She won the Hawthornden Prize in 1927 and 1933...

     (Hogarth Press
    Hogarth Press
    The Hogarth Press was founded in 1917 by Leonard Woolf and Virginia Woolf. It was named after their house in Richmond, in which they began hand-printing books....

    , London, 1931)
  • Duino Elegies, trans. J.B. Leishman and Stephen Spender
    Stephen Spender
    Sir Stephen Harold Spender CBE was an English poet, novelist and essayist who concentrated on themes of social injustice and the class struggle in his work...

     (W. W. Norton, New York, 1939)
  • Duino Elegies, trans. Jessie Lemont (Fine Editions Press, New York, 1945)
  • Duineser Elegien: The Elegies of Duino, trans. Nora Wydenbruck (Amandus, Vienna, 1948
  • Duinesian Elegies, trans. Elaine E. Boney (University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill, 1975)
  • Duino Elegies, trans. David Young (W. W. Norton, New York, 1978) ISBN 0-393-30931-2
  • Duino Elegies, trans. Gary Miranda
    Gary Miranda
    -Life:Miranda was raised in the Pacific Northwest.He spent six years in a Jesuit seminary, then did graduate work at San Jose State College and the University of California, Irvine...

     (Azul Editions, Falls Church, VA, 1996) ISBN 885214-07-3
  • Duino Elegies, trans. Robert Hunter
    Robert Hunter (lyricist)
    Robert C. Hunter is an American lyricist, singer-songwriter, translator, and poet, best known for his association with Jerry Garcia and the Grateful Dead.-Biography:He was born Robert Burns in San Luis Obispo, California...

     w/ block prints by Mareen Hunter (Hulogosi Press, 1989))
  • Duino Elegies trans. Stephen Cohn (Carcanet Press
    Carcanet Press
    Carcanet Press is a publisher, primarily of poetry, based in the United Kingdom and founded in 1969 by Michael Schmidt.Carcanet Press is now in its fourth decade. In 2000 it was named the Sunday Times millennium Small Publisher of the Year...

    , 1989) ISBN 978-0856358371
  • Duino-Elegieë trans. H.J. Pieterse from German to Afrikaans (Protea, Pretoria, 2007) ISBN 978-1-86919-151-1
  • Duino Elegies, trans. Martyn Crucefix (Enitharmon Press
    Enitharmon Press
    Enitharmon Press is an independent British publishing house specialising in poetry.The name of the press comes from the poetry of William Blake: Enitharmon was a character who represented spiritual beauty and poetic inspiration. The press's logo "derives from a Blake woodcut".-History:The Press was...

    , London, 2008)

Sonnets to Orpheus

  • Sonnets to Orpheus, trans. with notes and commentary J.B. Leishman (Hogarth Press, London, 1936)
  • Sonnets to Orpheus, trans. M.D. Herder Norton (W. W. Norton, New York, 1942)
  • Sonnets to Orpheus, trans. C. F. MacIntyre
    Carlyle Ferren MacIntyre
    Carlyle Ferren MacIntyre is an American poet, known for his poetry and translations of Baudelaire, Verlaine, George, Goethe and Rilke....

    , (U.C. Berkeley Press, 1961)
  • Sonnets to Orpheus, trans. Jessie Lemont (Fine Editions PRess, New York, 1945)
  • Sonnets to Orpheus, trans. with notes Stephen Mitchell (Simon and Schuster, New York, 1985)
  • Sonnets to Orpheus, trans. Stephen Cohn with "Letters to a Young Poet" (Carcanet Press
    Carcanet Press
    Carcanet Press is a publisher, primarily of poetry, based in the United Kingdom and founded in 1969 by Michael Schmidt.Carcanet Press is now in its fourth decade. In 2000 it was named the Sunday Times millennium Small Publisher of the Year...

    , 2000) ISBN 978-1857544565
  • Sonnets to Orpheus, trans. with notes and commentary Edward Snow (North Point Press, New York, 2004) ISBN 0865477213
  • Sonnets to Orpheus, trans. Willis Barnstone
    Willis Barnstone
    Willis Barnstone is an American poet, memoirist, translator, Hispanist, and comparatist. He has translated the Ancient Greek poets and the complete fragments of the pre-Socratic philosopher Heraclitus . He is also a New Testament and Gnostic scholar.-Life:Born in Lewiston, Maine, Barnstone grew...

     (Shambhala Publications
    Shambhala Publications
    Shambhala Publications is an independent publishing company based in Boston, Massachusetts. According to the company, it specializes in "books that present creative and conscious ways of transforming the individual, the society, and the planet". Many of its books deal with Buddhism or related topics...

    , Boston, 2004)
  • Sonnets to Orpheus, trans. Leslie Norris and Alan Keele
    Alan Keele
    Alan Frank Keele is an American professor of German at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah.-Biography:Keele was born in Provo and attended school in Springville, Utah, Laramie, Wyoming, Spanish Fork, Utah, and Bicknell, Utah, where he graduated from Wayne High School in 1960.Keele is a member...

     (ed. Lucien Jenkins) (Camden House, Inc 1989)
  • Sonnets to Orpheus, trans. Robert Hunter
    Robert Hunter (lyricist)
    Robert C. Hunter is an American lyricist, singer-songwriter, translator, and poet, best known for his association with Jerry Garcia and the Grateful Dead.-Biography:He was born Robert Burns in San Luis Obispo, California...

  • Orpheus, trans. Don Paterson
    Don Paterson
    Don Paterson, OBE, FRSL is a Scottish poet, writer and musician.-Background:Paterson was born in Dundee. He won an Eric Gregory Award in 1990 and his poem A Private Bottling won the Arvon Foundation International Poetry Competition in 1993. He was included on the list of 20 poets chosen for the...

     (Faber, 2006)

Other collections

  • Stories of God, trans. M.D. Herter Norton (W. W. Norton, New York, 1932) ISBN 0393308820
  • Stories of God, trans. Michael H. Kohn (Shambhala, Boston, 2003) ISBN 9781590300381
  • Stories of God, trans. Various, edited by Jack Beacham (Aventure Works, Hudson, Ohio, 2009) ISBN 1439225613
  • Letters to a Young Poet, trans. M.D. Herter Norton (W.W. Norton, New York, 1934) ISBN 0393310396
  • Letters to a Young Poet, trans. Mark Harman (Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 2011) 112 pages ISBN 9780674052451
  • Poems from The Book of Hours trans. Babette Deutsch (New Directions, New York, 1941)
  • The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge, trans. M.D. Herter Norton (W.W. Norton, New York, 1949) ISBN 0393308812
  • The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge, trans. Stephen Mitchell (New York, 1983)
  • The Lay of the Love and Death of Cornet Christophe Rilke, trans. Stephen Mitchell (Graywolf Press
    Graywolf Press
    Graywolf Press is an independent, non-profit publisher located in St. Paul, Minnesota. Founded on a dedication to the creation and promotion of thoughtful and imaginative contemporary literature essential to a vital and diverse culture, Graywolf Press publishes fiction, non-fiction, and poetry.Now...

    , 1985) ISBN 0915308770
  • The Book of Hours: Prayers to a Lowly God, trans. Annemarie S. Kidder (Evanston, 2001)
  • Larenopfer, trans. and commentary by Alfred de Zayas, with drawings by Martin Andrysek (Red Hen Press, Los Angeles, 2005, 2nd revised and enlarged edition with a preface by Ralph Freedman, 2008)
  • Rainer Maria Rilke's The Book of Hours: A New Translation with Commentary, trans. Susan Ranson, edited with an introduction and notes by Ben Hutchinson (Camden House, New York/Boydell & Brewer Ltd, Woodbridge, UK, 2008) ISBN 978-1-57113-380-9
  • Rilke's Book of Hours: Love Poems to God, translated by Anita Barrows and Joanna Macy
    Joanna Macy
    Joanna Rogers Macy, Ph.D , is an environmental activist, author, scholar of Buddhism, general systems theory, and deep ecology.-Biography:...

    ; New York: Riverhead Books
    Riverhead Books
    Riverhead Books is a division of Penguin Group .Notable books and major bestsellers published by Riverhead include Journals by Kurt Cobain; The Art of Happiness by His Holiness the Dalai Lama; The Color of Water by James McBride; Native Speaker, A Gesture Life, and Aloft by Chang-rae Lee; Fever...

    (1996); ISBN 1-59448-156-3


See also

  • Baladine Klossowska
    Baladine Klossowska
    Baladine Klossowska or Kłossowska was a twentieth-century European painter. She was the mother of the artist Balthus and the writer Pierre Klossowski, and the last lover of the poet Rainer Maria Rilke.She was born Elisabeth Dorothea Spiro in Breslau, Prussia...

  • Rainer Maria Rilke Foundation
    Rainer Maria Rilke Foundation
    The Rainer Maria Rilke Foundation was established in 1986 in Sierre, Switzerland, on the patronage of the municipality. Its goal is to promote the knowledge of Rainer Maria Rilke's works, through a museum, exhibitions, lectures, conferences, publications and a festival...

     in Sierre
    Sierre
    Sierre is the capital of the district of Sierre in the canton of Valais in Switzerland. It has a population of 14,355.It is situated on the French–German language border of the canton of Wallis...

    , Switzerland

Biographies

  • Freedman, Ralph (1996) Life of a Poet: Rainer Maria Rilke, New York.
  • Prater, Donald (1994) A Ringing Glass: The Life of Rainer Maria Rilke, Oxford University Press
  • Torgersen, Eric (1998) Dear Friend: Rainer Maria Rilke and Paula Modersohn-Becker, Northwestern University Press

Critical studies

  • Leeder, Karen, and Robert Vilain, eds. The Cambridge Companion to Rilke. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010. ISBN 978-0521705080
  • Erika, A and Metzger, Michael (2001) A Companion to the Works of Rainer Maria Rilke, Rochester
  • Engel, Manfred and Lauterbach, Dorothea (ed) Rilke Handbuch: Leben – Werk – Wirkung, Stuttgart: Metzler, 2004.
  • Goldsmith, Ulrich, ed. (1980). Rainer Maria Rilke, a verse concordance to his complete lyrical poetry. Leeds: W.S. Maney.
  • Hutchinson, Ben. Rilke's Poetics of Becoming (Oxford: Legenda, 2006).
  • Mood, John. (2009) A New Reading of Rilke's "Elegies": Affirming the Unity of "life-and-death" Lewiston, NY: Edwin Mellen Press ISBN 9780773438644.
  • Pechota Vuilleumier, Cornelia (2010) Heim und Unheimlichkeit bei Rainer Maria Rilke und Lou Andreas-Salomé. Literarische Wechselwirkungen. Olms, Hildesheim ISBN 9783487142524
  • Schwarz, Egon. (1981) Poetry and politics in the works of Rainer Maria Rilke. Frederick Ungar ISBN 9780804428118.

External links

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