OVERRIDE

Sonnets to Orpheus

Rainer Maria Rilke; Translated by Edward Snow

North Point Press

Breathing, you invisible poem!
World-space in pure continuous interchange
with my own being. Equipose
in which I rhythmically transpire.

Written only four years before Rilke's death, this sequence of sonnets, varied in form yet consistently structured, stands as the poet's final masterwork. In these meditations on the constant flux of our world and the ephemerality of experience, Rilke envisions death not only as one among many of life's transformations but also as an ideally receptive state of being. Because Orpheus has visited the realm of death and returned to the living, his lyre, a unifying presence in these poems, is an emblem of fluidity and musical transcendence. And Eurydice, condemned to Hades as a result of Orpheus's backward glance, becomes in Rilke's universe a mythical figure of consolation and hope.

Edward Snow, in his translations of New Poems, The Book of Images, Uncollected Poems, and Duino Elegies, has emerged as Rilke's most able English-language interpreter. Adhering faithfully to the intent of Rilke's German while constructing nuanced, colloquial poems in English, Snow's Sonnets to Orpheus should serve as the authoritative translation for years to come.

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Praise for Sonnets to Orpheus

"[Edward Snow] has emerged as Rilke's outstanding English-language interpreter . . . [He] 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

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

  • Rainer Maria Rilke; Translated by Edward Snow

  • Edward Snow is a professor of English at Rice University. He is the recipient of an Academy of Arts and Letters Award for his Rilke translations and has twice received the Academy of American Poets' Harold Morton Landon Translation Award.
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Sonnets to Orpheus

Rainer Maria Rilke; Translated by Edward Snow

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FROM THE PUBLISHER

North Point Press

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