Rainer Maria Rilke
(1875 - 1926)
Countless readers feel Rainer Maria Rilke's poetry speaks personally
just to them, while at the same time opening glimpses into the infinite.
Rilke's writing does not belong to any school, and his major artistic mentors
were not poets at all, but the novelist Tolstoy and the sculptor Rodin,
both of them unique and monumental and not very attached
to the times they lived in.
"I too feel the intimacy of Rilke's voice as if he were a personal friend,"
writes Erik Bendix, "I was drawn into translating his work unwittingly,
the way a powerful current might draw a swimmer out to sea.
Years after translating the Duino Elegies and Sonnets to Orpheus,
I learned my father had carried copies of these poems with him
when he fled Nazi Germany in 1938, and later used them in
courting my mother. So they belong to what gave me life."
photo: Rainer Maria Rilke on an afternoon stroll in the Valais, southern Switzerland, 1924
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