Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Rose Window: Review

Suddenly a shaft of moonlight
shines out fiercely, as if somewhere
the archangel had unsheathed his brilliant sword.
~from "Townscape"

I'm really working on clearing out books that have been sitting on the TBR shelves for much too long. The Rose Window & Other Verse from New Poems by Rainer Maria Rilke has been hanging out for about 10 years or so. I fell in love with Rilke's poetry in college. I went out immediately and bought myself The Complete French Poems and have read and reread those. Then in about 2000, I found this pretty little book sitting in the clearance bin of a now defunct bookstore. And somehow managed to never read it. So...I put it down for a number of reading challenges just to ensure that I would finally do so.

This book of poetry isn't quite as compelling as the translated French poems. I think perhaps it suffers from the fact that there are multiple translators rather than just one--nine translators in all. I would get into a certain rhythm (or rather the translator seemed to) and then a poem would come along that brought things to a screeching halt. Word choice and order seemed a bit off. Then there would be a few more good ones. It made for very uneven reading. My favorite poems were "Early Apollo" and "The Angel of the Meridian" (both translated by the same person), "The Poet" and "Townscape" (translated by a second person) and "Lullaby" (translated by a third). My rating for the entire collection: three and a half stars.

[for the European Reading Challenge: Rilke was born in Prague, died in Switzerland, and the poems are translated from German]

1 comment:

Gilion at Rose City Reader said...

April is National Poetry Month, right? So what a perfect time to scratch this one off your list.

Thanks for including your review in the European Reading Challenge!