In fifty-five sonnets, Rilke plays an astonishing set of philosophical and sensual variations on the Orpheus myth. ‘Praising, that’s it!’ he declares; nature, art, love, time, childhood, technology, poverty, justice – all are encompassed in poems that spark with insight and invention, amongst the joyful and light-footed that Rilke ever wrote. ‘All poetry resists translation, and one poem may have many different versions in another language; what I look for first is clarity, and this version supplies that generously. With the presence of the German text and Crucefix’s helpful notes, the English-speaking reader with little or no German will find in this version a welcoming entrance to the path which leads eventually to a full understanding – if a full understanding of this mysterious poetry is ever possible.
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