Bibliophiliac is the space where one passionate, voracious reader reflects on books and the reading life. You will find reviews, analysis, links, and reflections on poetry and prose both in and out of the mainstream.

A book must be the axe for the frozen sea within us. Franz Kafka

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Every single angel is terrible

"If I cried out
who would hear me up there
among the angelic orders?"

Duino Elegies
Rainer Maria Rilke
translated by David Young
WW Norton, 1978.

This bilingual edition of Duino Elegies has an eloquent introduction, giving a brief history of Rilke's major poetic work, composed over a period of ten years.

Rilke was wholly dedicated to poetry; he declared "solitude is a true elixir," and was willing to sacrifice everything for his art.
In his introduction, David Young says the Duino Elegies are "about what it really means to be human." To be human is to die, and like all elegies, these poems are about loss, beauty, and terror.

"Every angel is terrible.
And still, alas
knowing all that
I serenade you
you almost deadly
birds of the soul."

Rilke, "Second Elegy," Duino Elegies, translated by David Young

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