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The Complete French Poems
Graywolf Press

The Complete French Poems

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The Complete French Poems
Author(s): Rainer Maria Rilke

Originallly published as four clothbound editions (The Roses and The Windows, The Astonishment of Origins, Orchards, and The Migration of Powers), this large paperback brings together all of Rilke's French poems, as well as his hitherto unpublished Dedications and Fragments, in an exquisite English translation by A. Poulin, Jr.

Before Poulin's important efforts, it wasn't widely known that Rilke—often deemed one of modernity's finest writers for his work in German—also wrote over 400 poems in French. These lyrics were composed toward the end of Rilke's life, after he had produced his masterworks, The Duino Elegies and Sonnets to Orpheus. Yet the French poems are entirely of a piece with Rilke's characteristic themes, subjects, moods, and images. As Poulin notes in his Preface to The Complete French Poems: "The French lyrics [are] small poems of careful attentiveness to the things of this world [and] to the elusive states of being in which the world is poetically transformed."


“These are poems of meticulous insight and feeling, rather than the grand themes of universal order and worldly destiny found in Rilke's earlier German work. As such, almost as intellectual ballast, the French poems give new significance and dimension to Rilke's canon.” —Chicago Sun Times

“[Poulin] is a deft translator, with sympathy for Rilke's ideas and a nice sense of the rhythm of lines.” —The Washington Post

“Rilke's French poems are refined and subtle. Some of them mirror his exuberance and his relief that once again he was able to write, while in others there lingers a trace of persistent sadness, as in the verses addressed to a rose: 'You are left / with us now, sharing, / desperately, this life, this life / where you don't belong.' Poulin's English versions capture the essence of the originals, and they are also graceful renditions of their rhythms. The convenience of finding all of Rilke's French poems in one book adds to the attractiveness of this new collection.” —Independent Publisher

“Delight is certainly the feeling one gets from this first comprehensive collection of Rilke's French poetry in translation. Poulin gives us the French and English on facing pages, enabling us to luxuriate in the grace and elegance of Rilke's late repose.” —Islander Books

ISBN:  9781555973612