VALAISIAN QUATRAINS

translated by Peter Oram

The great German poet Rainer Maria Rilke (1875-1926) spent the last years of his life in the Canton of Valais, in the French-speaking part of Switzerland. Here he completed his two most important works, the Sonnets to Orpheus and the Duino Elegies. Both as a kind of postscript to these and as a homage to the region that had now become his home, he wrote four cycles of short poems; these were however not in his native German, but in French, and it is one of these cycles, the Valaisian Quatrains, that is presented in this book in the original French, together with an English verse translation by Peter Oram.

These poems reveal a spacious, light-filled landscape that is not only a portrait of this part of Switzerland but is also Rilke’s vision of a transfigured countryside that lies beyond the merely physical and geographical. The apparent simplicity which may be the impression of a first reading is deceptive, and each time one comes back to these verses one is rewarded with rare new insights into a transcendent world.

More Information

  • R.M. Rilke
  • Format: Hardback
  • No. Pages: 84
  • ISBN: 978 1 899530 34 2
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