The Poetry of Rilke

Rainer Maria Rilke; Translated and Edited by Edward Snow; Introduction by Adam Zagajewski

North Point Press



Trade Paperback

720 Pages



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For the past twenty-five years, North Point Press has been working with Edward Snow, "Rilke's best contemporary translator" (Brian Phillips, The New Republic), to bring into English Rilke's major poetic works. The Poetry of Rilke—the single most comprehensive volume of Rilke's German poetry ever to be published in English—is the culmination of this effort. With more than two hundred and fifty selected poems by Rilke, including complete translations of the Sonnets to Orpheus and the Duino Elegies, The Poetry of Rilke spans the arc of Rilke's work, from the breakthrough poems of The Book of Hours to the visionary masterpieces written only weeks before his death. This landmark bilingual edition also contains all of Snow's commentaries on Rilke, as well as an important new introduction by award-winning poet Adam Zagajewski. The Poetry of Rilke will stand as the authoritative single-volume translation of Rilke into English for years to come. 


Praise for The Poetry of Rilke

"Snow, a professor at Rice, has devoted a good deal of his life to bringing into fluid, lyrical English more of Rilke's books than anyone else. He is Rilke's best contemporary ambassador to the English-speaking world. Rilke, of course, is one of the major poets of the 20th century, author of such famous poems as 'Archaic Torso of Apollo,' 'The Panther' and 'The Duino Elegies.' Snow's translations of the complete texts of Rilke's original collections—including both volumes of New Poems, The Book of Images, Duino Elegies and the revelatory Uncollected Poems—are beautiful works in their own right and bring across all of Rilke's intensity and focus. This mammoth book brings together generous selections from all of Snow's volumes of Rilke in their recently revised editions; it's certain to be the definitive collection of Rilke for some time to come. Readers will be helpless, after passing through this book, against the command that closes 'Archaic Torso': 'You must change your life.'"—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Praise for Rainer Maria Rilke and Edward Snow

“Edward Snow is doing important work. Robert Lowell once wrote that it was hard to imagine Rilke first written in English, that the poems were sealed in German. Snow is unsealing them.”—Robert Phillips, Houston Chronicle

Reviews from Goodreads



Read an Excerpt

Rereading Rilke by Adam Zagajewski
We read Rilke for his poetry, for his prose, for his novel The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge, and for hundreds if not thousands of the letters he left, but there seems to be another important motive too: in our eyes his life pre­sents itself as a .awless example of a modern artist’s existence, an example purer perhaps than any other, perfect in its relentless pursuit of beauty.
In the German literary tradition it is Johann Wolfgang von Goethe who enjoyed for a very long time the status not only of an immense poet, play­wright,
Read the full excerpt


  • Rainer Maria Rilke; Translated and Edited by Edward Snow; Introduction by Adam Zagajewski

  • Rainer Maria Rilke was born in Prague in 1875 and traveled throughout Europe for much of his adult life, returning frequently to Paris. His last years were spent in Switzerland, where he completed his two poetic masterworks, the Duino Elegies and the Sonnets to Orpheus. He died of leukemia in December 1926.
    Edward Snow is a professor of English at Rice University. He is the recipient of an American Academy of Arts and Letters Award for his Rilke translations and has twice received the Academy of American Poets' Harold Morton Landon Translation Award.
  • Adam Zagajewski Jerry Bauer
    Adam Zagajewski