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Another Rilke?

Posted 14th February 2012

As Ian Crockatt asks in his introduction to Arc's latest publication - Pure Contradiction, Selected Poems by Rilke, why? He answers this in his introduction: interconnectedness.

What I'm particulary interested in, as Crockatt is, is why would people even ask this? No one asks why songs from Dylan, Cohen, Beatles and recently AC/DC are regularly covered. It is implicitly understood there is room for another interpretation of a piece of music. And the more distinct the cover, the better I find it - the more reason for its coming into being.

So, for a translator to take the breadth of Rilke's work and shake them up chronologically to reveal how light and shadow fall across them is a welcome addition to reading, enjoying and understanding the work. That Rilke chose to write in French rather than his mother tongue of German when he felt it couldn't express what he needed to say in his final poems, supports their continual re-examination - as he was doing with his own language use. This re-examination isn't necessarily needed to be made solely by different translator-poets but also between the poems themselves. And between the French and English and German and English. These are poems of transformation, that more often than not occupy the space between two Things.

Another reason for the swing across chronology is held in the poems themselves. Many of them swing between abstract thought and emotion to external imagery, which makes reading them quite breathtaking, as, accumulatively the reading of the collection becomes exhilerating as the extended shadows fall through the poems.

So, we wholeheartedly agree there is room for another Rilke...