SELECTED POEMS OF RAINER MARIA RILKE by Rainer Maria Rilke

SELECTED POEMS OF RAINER MARIA RILKE

By
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

Bly's Rilke harkens back to those personal-selection anthologies that were once so popular--Milton Cross' book of The World's Most Cherished Operas, say, or Stephen Vincent Benet Selects The Best of Whitman. The Rilke that Bly translates and comments upon is very much a Bly-ish poet: vatic, praise-giving, or drilling down into the ""Tiefen""--depths--for psychologically echoing imagery. The late, dark Duino Elegies are passed over in favor of the more laudate omnis Orpheus sonnets (translated better by Al Poulin, Jr.). And Bly's English equivalents frequently march to an ecclestiastical beat: ""Ich glaube"" is ""I have faith"" rather than ""I believe""--a portentous spurning of active verbs that often takes away the springiness, the chewiness of Rilke, in the middle-years poetry in particular. But ""Herbst"" (""Autumn""), ""Romische Campagna"" (""Roman Countryside""), ""An Die Musik"" (""On Music"")--these breathtaking marvels of poetry sing nonetheless; Bly's English strains, successfully, to render their extraordinariness. (In some instances, there are no better translations than Bly's.) So: there's a fractioned Rilke on display here, approximately a three-quarter one--and yet with work this great it's about enough. The German originals are interleaved.

Pub Date: April 8th, 1981
Publisher: Harper & Row