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Duino Elegies [Paperback]

Rainer Rilke , Martyn Crucefix
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

10 Oct 2006
Perhaps no cycle of poems in any European language has made so profound and lasting an impact on an English-speaking readership as Rilke's "Duino Elegies". These luminous new translations make it marvelously clear that the poem is profoundly committed to a real world, observed with an acute and visionary intensity. Completed in the same year as "The Wasteland" was published, the "Elegies" constitute a magnificent godless poem in their rejection of the transcendent and in their passionate celebration of the here and now: Just once for each thing. Once and no more. And we too, just once. And never again. Yet to have been this once, and so utterly, even if only once - our having been on this earth can never be undone. Troubled by our insecure place in this world and fractured relationship with death, the "Elegies" are nevertheless populated by a vast throng of vivid and affecting figures: acrobats, lovers, angels, mothers, fathers, statues, salesmen, actors and children. These vigorous and exciting translations and their accompanying commentary offer twenty-first century readers in English a new opportunity to experience the power of Rilke's greatest masterpiece.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 103 pages
  • Publisher: Enitharmon Press; Bilingual edition (10 Oct 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1904634230
  • ISBN-13: 978-1904634232
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 13.6 x 21.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 434,108 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


'[a] substantial, powerful and necessary work' -- Poetry London

'deserves to become the standard English edition worldwide' -- Magma

About the Author

Martyn Crucefix Bio Martyn Crucefix's own poetry has won numerous prizes, including a Major Eric Gregory Award and a Hawthorden fellowship and has been praised as "urgent, heartfelt and masterful" (Poetry London). His collections include Beneath Tremendous Rain (1990), At The Mountjoy Hotel (1993), on Whistler Mountain (1994), A Madder Ghost (Enitharmon, 1997) and An English Nazareth (Enitharmon, 2004). He is founder member of the group ShadoWork, specializing in performing and writing collaboratively. For information on his work visit

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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A very readable translation 16 Nov 2010
The Duino Elegies have always been popular with English readers, and there have been many translations of them into English (I have five in my library, but I am aware of some others). What is interesting is to compare them with a view to contrasting what the various translators' view of what a translation is. (See Hofstadter's incomparable Le Ton Beau de Marot -which, despite its French title, is written in English- for an outstanding discussion of this topic. Le Ton Beau De Marot: In Praise of the Music of Language) For example, some translators attempt to translate as literally as they can, at the expense of clarity if necessary, while others, when faced with obscurity in the original, take some liberties with the original in order to express what they take to be the spirit of its meaning.

So the first decision to be taken with Rilke is how to translate his often rather florid and 'literary' German. Those who value literalness will inevitably end up by deciding to use a florid and 'literary' English, and I have quite a few of these. What makes this translation by Martin Crucefix different is his deliberate decision that his first priority is performance. i.e. how well it reads aloud. I have just given an adult education class on the Elegies and in the course of preparation I read aloud to myself all the translations in my possession, and this one was the easiest to make sense of in performance, by some considerable way. And the class seemed to understand what was being said, too.

So does this make it a good translation as far as accuracy is concerned?
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