THE RILKE OF RUTH SPEIRS: NEW POEMS, DUINO, ELEGIES, SONNETS TO ORPHEUS AND OTHERS
Written by Rainer Maria Rilke; Translated by Ruth Speirs; Edited by John Pilling and Peter Robinson
2015; 188 Pages
Genre: poetry, translations
(I received an ARC from the NETGALLEY in exchange for an honest review.)
I am going to let the publisher describe this volume of poetry:
Rainer Maria Rilke (1875-1926) is universally recognized as among the most important twentieth-century German-language poets. Here, for the first time, are all the surviving translations of his poetry made by Ruth Speirs (1916-2000), a Latvian exile who joined the British literary community in Cairo during World War Two, becoming a close friend of Lawrence Durrell and Bernard Spencer.I knew nothing about Rilke and Speirs before reading this collection. Once I read the beautiful words of both writer and translator I was on the hunt to find out more. Rilke has become more popular with New Age/Self Help readers but I find his writing like Rumi. Wikipedia has more on Rilke's life and works but I found a hard time finding out about Ruth Speirs like the edition said. I recommend this collection of poetry to those who enjoy reading poetry out loud.
Though described as ‘excellent’ and ‘the best’ by J. M. Cohen on the basis of magazine and anthology appearances, copyright restrictions meant that during her lifetime, with the exception of a Cairo-published Selected Poems (1942), Speirs was never to see her work gathered between covers and in print.
This volume, edited by John Pilling and Peter Robinson, brings Speirs’ translations the belated recognition they deserve. Her much-revised and considered versions are a key document in the history of Rilke’s Anglophone dissemination. Rhythmically alive and carefully faithful, they give a uniquely mid-century English accent to the poet’s extraordinary German, and continue to bear comparison with current efforts to render his tenderly taxing voice.
k (My Novelesque Life)