New Poems

New Poems

Rainer Maria Rilke

Translated by Len Krisak

Introduction by George C. Schoolfield

A new translation of Rilke's groundbreaking volume, following the formal properties of the original poems, especially meter and rhyme, as closely as English allows.
Rainer Maria Rilke, the most famous (and important) German language poet of the twentieth century - a master to be ranked with Goethe and Heine - wrote the New Poems of 1907 and 1908 in transition from his late-nineteenth-century style. They mark his appearance as a lyrical, metaphysical poet of the modernist sensibility, often using traditional forms like the sonnet to explore the inner essence, the deep heart, of things - often, quite literally, things. Influenced by his time spent as Rodin's secretary, Rilke turned to quotidian life and sought to artistically redeem it in all its possibilities. His exquisite use of meter and rhyme marks him as a "formalist" and yet a contemporary of Eliot and the later Yeats, so this translation follows, as closely as English allows, the formal properties of the original poems, in a line-for-line version, while trying to capture the spare diction and direct idioms of modernism.

Len Krisak is a recipient of the Richard Wilbur, Robert Penn Warren, and Robert Frost prizes in poetry. He has published more than five hundred poems, including translations from the Latin, Greek, Spanish, Italian, Russian, and German.

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Table of Contents

Translator's Preface by Len Krisak
Introduction by George C. Schoolfield
Part I. Neue Gedichte / New Poems
Part II. Der neuen Gedichte anderer Teil / New Poems: The Other Part
Index of Titles and First Lines in German
Index of Titles and First Lines in English


Krisak's translation of the New Poems offers readers a fresh opportunity to consider not only Rilke's poetry but also Rilke himself. JOURNAL OF AUSTRIAN STUDIES

[Rilke's poetic project] was an ongoing, constantly shifting enterprise, a significant stage of which is rendered admirably in Len Krisak's new bilingual edition of New Poems. . . . The poems themselves [are] rendered . . . with careful attention to the experience of the original. . . . [This is] a sober and meticulous translation, which allows the poems' light to shine . . . by seeking out its source in the words themselves. PN REVIEW [Jack Hanson]

Though not the first to render Rilke's work into English, Krisak - in striving especially to imitate Rilke's form, rhymes, and meter - succeeds in conveying both the force and subtleties of the original. . . . Highly recommended. CHOICE

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