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Rainer Maria Rilke


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Rainer Maria Rilke (also Rainer Maria von Rilke) (4 December 1875 – 29 December 1926) is considered one of the German language’s greatest 20th century poets. His haunting images focus on the difficulty of communion with the ineffable in an age of disbelief, solitude, and profound anxiety — themes that tend to position him as a transitional figure between the traditional and the modernist poets.

He wrote in both verse and a highly lyrical prose. His two most famous verse sequences are the Sonnets to Orpheus and the Duino Elegies; his two most famous prose works are the Letters to a Young Poet and the semi-autobiographical The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge. He also wrote more than 400 poems in French, dedicated to his homeland of choice, the canton of Valais in Switzerland.


* The indie rock band Rainer Maria takes its name from Rilke, and at least some of their merchandise bears the poet’s image.
* The Cocteau Twins song “Rilkean Heart”, on the 1996 album Milk and Kisses, is an homage to Jeff Buckley who was a lifelong lover of Rilke’s work.
* The Swiss composer Frank Martin set Rilke’s prose “Die Weise von Liebe und Tod des Cornets Christoph Rilke”(The lay of the love and death of cornet Christopher Rilke)to orchestral song circle in German,premiered in February 1945. Viktor Ullmann,an Austrian composer,also composed this prose.
* The British composer Oliver Knussen has set texts of Rainer Maria Rilke to music in his unaccomapanied Rilke songs and in Requiem: Songs for Sue.

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