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Rilke's 'left-handed lyre': (1) multilingualism and the poetics of possibility.


This article traces the development of Rainer Maria Rilke's French verse in the context of his perceptions of language and translation and his emerging 'lyrische Zweisprachigkeit'. This is considered both in terms of his biographical trajectory, from the confines of the German-speaking minority in Prague, via the 'offene Welt' of Paris, to the neutral and multilingual environment of his last 'Schweizer Jahre', and in terms of an emerging 'poetics of absence' which leads to a search for new poetic possibilities and a quest for a tentative new beginning, both of which can be detected in his latest, French, poetry.


For Rainer Maria Rilke, who first arrived in Paris in 1902 at the age of twentysix with a letter of introduction to Auguste Rodin and a commission for a monograph o 'n the already famous sculptor, the French capital and the French language were to become arguably the most significant influences on his subsequent 'poetic development'. (2) Paris as the 'unendlicher Schauplatz', (3) the locus of inspiration and source of creativity par excellence, is of course a familiar topos in Rilke scholarship. After the impressionistic subjectivity of the Russian journeys of 1899-1900, and the Stundenbuch which these--at least in part-inspired, Rilke's encounter with Paris is characterized by the 'ways of seeing' learnt at the feet of Rodin and, metaphorically at least, of Cezanne, as well as by Rodin's creed of toujours travailler: (4) formative aesthetic experiences which find artistic expression in the two parts of the Neue Gedichte (mostly written in Paris from 1902 to 1907) and the two Requiem poems of November 1908. (5) In providing the right tension between familiarity and anonymity, Paris--which Rilke made his base, albeit with numerous interruptions, from 1902 until 1914, when the outbreak of the First World War prevented him from returning from a brief (as he thought) visit to Munich--supplied the necessary environment for the inception of his mature work. There can be no doubt that the different linguistic surroundings--the immersion in the relatively unfamiliar medium of the French language--play a major part in this. Thus, in a letter of 17 March 1922 to Grafin Margot Sizzo--relating a conversation with the more conventionally patriotic German poet Richard Dehmel--Rilke justifies his 'standiges Wohnen im Auslande' as a desire to keep his German poetic medium separate from the debased nature of everyday language:

dassich arbeitend, keinDeutsch (das meistens so widerwartig schlecht und faul gesprochene!) um mich horen konne, sondern es vorzoge, dann von einer anderen, mir als Umgangsmittel vertrauten und sympathischen Sprache umgeben zu sein: durch solche Isolierung (die er als enorm 'unpatriotisch' empfunden haben mag) nahme dann [...] das Deutsch in mir eine eigent umliche Sammlung und Klarheit an; abgeruckt von allem taglichen Gebrauch, empfande ich es als das mir angemessene herrliche (wie herrliche: nur, vielleicht, uber das Russische so zu verfugen, gabe es eine noch grossere Gamme, noch weitere Kontraste des Ausdrucks!) --Material--. (6)

Although he consistently regarded himself as a citizen of 'die offene Welt' of European civilization, in an era before the First World War and its aftermath imposed limits--and passports--on formerly unrestricted European travel, Rilke's roots lay in the last decades of the old Austro-Hungarian empire, with a childhood spent in the comparatively claustrophobic environs of the German-speaking community in Prague. However ambivalent his later attitude to it, this world-within-a-world of intersecting yet distinct linguistic communities is likely to have instilled in the nascent poet a heightened sense of separate yet overlapping linguistic spheres, (7) one which he comes to rationalize in later years with such semi-ironic comments as the following (here on his predilection for corresponding in French): 'J'ai pense, de cette facon, de degager l'autre langue de presque tout emploi qui n'est pas d'art et d'en faire la pure matiere de mon travail verbal.' (8)

Most accounts of Rilke's Prague childhood suggest that his mother, Sophie ('Phia') Entz, who believed her grandfather's family to have come from Alsace, undertook to teach French to the young Rene (as he was christened) from an early age. (9) To what extent this was a deliberate strategy to prevent him from replying in Czech to anyone speaking to him in that language at school, as his later son-in-law and early biographer Carl Sieber claims, seems by now at least open to question. According to this source, however, 'Seine Mutter lehrte ihm franzosisch, jeden Tag drei Worte, so dass er, als er in der Schule tschechisch angeredet wurde, auf Franzosisch antworten konnte, er lehne es ab, die tschechische Sprache zu erlernen.' (10)

Whatever Phia's maternal motives may have been, this paradoxically multilingual environment is likely, as suggested above, to have been significant for Rilke's later awareness of language(s). Rilke himself, meanwhile, suggests a different aspect to Austrian heteroglossia in a letter to August Sauer of 11 January 1914, lamenting the fact

dass es Osterreich, dem eine eigentliche Durchdringung seiner Bestandteile in keinem Sinne beschieden war, zu einer ihm eigenen Sprache nicht hat bringen durfen [...] Innerhalb der Sprache, deren ich mich nun bediene, aufgewachsen,war ich gleichwohl in der Lage, sie zehnmal aufzugeben, da ich sie mir doch ausserhalb aller Spracherinnerungen, ja mit Unterdruckung derselben aufzurichten hatte. Die unselige Beruhrung von Sprachkorpern, die sich gegenseitig unbekommlich sind, hat ja in unseren Landern dieses fort wahrende Schlechtwerden der Sprachrander zur Folge, aus dem sich weiter herausstellt, dass, wer etwa in Prag aufgewachsen ist, von fruh auf mit so verdorbenen Sprachabfallen unterhalten wurde, dass er spater fur alles Zeitigste und Zartlichste, was ihm ist beigebrachtworden, eine Abneigung, ja eine Art Schamzu entwickeln sich nicht verwehren kann. (Briefe, I, 495)

That it should still, even at this distance, be difficult to arrive at an objective impression of Rilke's early linguistic experience(s) and competence in his formative years is in itself indicative of the persistence of nationalistic feelings, which resurface in a different context after the First World War in the 'Fall Rilke', the controversy (unleashed, perhaps not coincidentally, in the conservative German Prague press) occasioned by the fact that Rilke, as 'der grosste Lyriker des heutigen Deutschlands' (sic!), should have so little regard for the contemporary political situation and the sensitivities of the scarcely cordial Franco-German post-war relations as to demonstrate his evident Francophilia and European mentalite by having--in their view--the temerity to publish original verse in French. (11)

While it is not possible to offer here an exhaustive investigation of Rilke's attitude to his own and other languages and his problematical relationships with his 'Austrian' identity, or lack of it, (12) it is none the less worth touching on his 'osterreichische Heimatlosigkeit' as a possible source of his explicit differentiation 'zwischen einer sprachlichen und einer nationalen Identitat'. (13) Thus he was, particularly during and after the First World War, at pains to avoid being identified as German:

Auch mir liegt, seit ich denken kann, das Nationale unendlich fern--, dennoch verwirrt esmich oft, dass ich angewiesen bin, mich in meinen eigensten Ausdrucken der Sprache eines Volkes zu bedienen, mit dessen Erscheinung und offentlichem Willen ich immer, wenigstens im Zeitgenossischen, durchaus uneins war [...]. (14)

This critical stance, however, in no way detracts from his awareness of his own indebtedness to, and creative output in, the German language and its rich literary tradition, as a letter from Munich in autumn 1915 makes clear:

Um zu wissen, wie arg mir diese Zeitlaufte anhaben, mussen Sie sich denken, dass ich nicht 'deutsch' empfinde,--in keiner Weise; ob ich gleich dem deutschen Wesen nicht fremd sein kann, da ich in seiner Sprache bis an die Wurzeln ausgebreitet bin, so hat mir doch seine gegenwartige Anwendung und sein jetziges aufbegehrlichesBewusstsein, soweit ich denken kann, nur Befremdung und Krankung bereitet; und vollends im Osterreichischen, das durch die Zeiten ein oberflachliches Kompromiss geblieben ist [...], im Osterreichischen ein Zu-hause zu haben, ist mir rein unausdenkbar und unausf uhlbar! Wie soll ich da, ich, dem Russland, Frankreich, Italien, Spanien, die Wuste und die Bibel das Herz ausgebildet haben, wie soll ich einen Anklang haben zu denen, die hier um mich grosssprechen! (11 September 1915 to Ilse Erdmann: Briefe, I, 592-93)

This ' Osterreichertum', however problematic (it became particularly so during Rilke's enforced Austrian Kriegsdienst), together with his post-war domicile in the crucially polyglot environment of Switzerland, at least has the merit of placing Rilke at a certain distance from Franco-German animosities, whether active or passive. Even before the war ends he envisages the creative potential of the other language, for example in a letter to Marie von Mutius on 15 January 1918:

Ich habe mir oft vorgestellt, dass man, franzosisch schreibend, in die Lage kommen konnte, gegen den Strich, sozusagen, gegen die Stromung der Sprache zu arbeiten: denn sie ist dem einzelnen Ringen gegenuber fast immer die starkere, in sie eingehen, heisst sich ihr unterwerfen, aber durch welche Uberlegenheit und Souveranitat belohnt sie dann diese entgegenkommende Wirkung.

By contrast, Rilke claims,

Das deutsche Wort, dichterisch gesteigert, entschwebt der Gemeinsamkeit und muss erst von ihr irgendwie eingeholt werden, das russische vollends bleibt wie auf einem Spruchband bei dem Einzelnen stehen, und nur, weil dort immer wieder ein Mensch zum anderen kommt [...] ubertragt es sich von Blut zu Blut, wie durch Ansteckung.

Not being restricted by a single, monoglot national identity thus opens up--indeed is an absolute precondition of--full possibility of expression:

im Grunde mussteman alle Sprachen schreiben, wie ja das, was Sie, begreiflicher Weise, jetzt als Klage aussprechen: diese Vaterlandslosigkeit sich auch jubelnd, in positiver Form, als eine Zugehorigkeit zum Ganzen bekennen liesse. Mein Herz und mein Geist waren von Kindheit an auf diese Welt-Ebenburtigkeit eingerichtet, ich kann keinen Schritt zuruck, und so mogen Sie begreifen, wie ich leide. (Briefe, 1, 656-57)

Only after the war, when the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire has left him in a very real sense stateless, does Rilke arrive at a notional, nostalgic sympathy with the idea of a specifically Austrian, hence composite, identity, as he writes to Anita Forrer on 22 March 1920:

Ich bin Oesterreicher, ubrigens in Prag geboren, bin mir aber der vielfaltigen Zusammensetzung der oesterreichischen Natur, in deren deutsche Mitte einerseits das Lateinische, andererseits das Slavische weit hineinreicht, von Kindheit an eigentumlich bewusst gewesen. (Briefe, 11, 62)

This identification is already suggested in a letter toLeopold von Schlozer from Locarno on 21 January 1920: '[...] zuruck--, aber wohin? Ob ich gleich diese Zustandigkeit [=his Austrian citizenship] nie ausgenutzt habe, jetzt merke ich doch die Heimatlosigkeit des Osterreichers' (Briefe, 11, 51).

It is thus scarcely surprising that, invited on a lecture tour of Switzerland in 1919, (15) Rilke should not have returned to Germany thereafter, despite the intermittent consternation of his German publisher Anton Kippenberg at the expense of maintaining him in Switzerland. However, that most cosmopolitan of cities in the early twentieth century, '[das] mir so unentbehrliche [...] Paris', had meanwhile come to represent for Rilke the epitome of 'die offene Welt[,] die einzig mogliche'. (16) In this way his domicile in the multilingual environment of Switzerland, with its comparatively ready access to the French literary world, may be understood as representing some kind of compensation for the lost pre-war Wahlheimat of Paris, to which both financial and bureaucratic considerations conspired to hinder a lasting return. (17)

'Les capitales sont indifferentes': (18) From the 'Ecole de Paris' to 'Poete d'expression francaise'

Given these cosmopolitan andmultilingual circumstances, togetherwith his linguistic and poetic facility, it is scarcely surprising that Rilke should be tempted to try his hand at composing verse in other languages, particularly French, even at a time when his command of that language was, to say the least, less than perfect. More surprising perhaps is the fact that his first known French poem, 'Mais j'ai raison', dates from as early as 1897. (19) Indeed it is under a translation from the French, Fernand Gregh's La Brise en larmes (SW, V11, 9), that the name Rainer Maria Rilke first appears in print in that same year. (20)

To trace the ways in which Rilke's French production and his translation oeuvre, or at least the major part of it concerned with French, go hand in hand would require a more detailed analysis than space allows here, but a brief overview may none the less prove illuminating for the light it sheds on Rilke's reception of, and engagement with, other languages and cultures and their effect on his own poetic production. (21)

Apart from such curiosities as the Chanson orpheline (22)--written in French and then laboriously translated 'back' into German--Rilke's initially sporadic French output may be said to begin, haltingly, with his move to Paris in 1902 and in all probability reflects his reading and reception of French literature, from Symbolism (the reception of Baudelaire in Malte needs no further comment here) via Renaissance love poetry to contemporary literature. (23) This is in turn reflected in his translation oeuvre (for example, works by Maurice Maeterlinck, Louize Labe, and Paul Valery). (24) In the spring of 1907, meanwhile, he comments to Ernst Norlind, the Swedish writer and artist whose guest he had been at Borgeby Gard in 1904: 'immer noch bin ich von Zeit zu Zeit genotigt, gewisse Dinge franzosisch zu schreiben, um sie uberhaupt ausformen zu konnen' (Briefe, 1, 253). The notion that this impulse to write in French is somehow not of his own volition is a persistent one, frequently invoked in the context of his later French compositions, where it is often presented as an almost irresistible 'temptation', as in this quotation from a letter to 'Merline' (Baladine Klossowska) of 21 September 1923: 'Dimanche dernier j'etais comme poursuivi par une dictee spontanee de vers (?) en francais. [...] C'etait tout simplement irresistible.' (25)

The culmination of Rilke's translation opus, following on from earlier translations from Elizabeth Barrett-Browning, Louize Labe, und Michelangelo, is without doubt his translations of Paul Valery. (26) However, his earliest Ubertragungen go back to his schooldays, some of the first being from Dante's Inferno and the Vita nuova (SW, V11, 737-39). Of particular interest in the present context are Maeterlinck's Douze chansons, translated in February 1902 in Westerwede, which may be seen retrospectively as a kind of inner--at least linguistic--preparation for the move to Paris in August of that year. (27)

Other translations fromthe French during the 'Paris years'--or as one might term them, the 'Malte years'--cluster around the theme of the 'Liebende': not just poems by Rilke's contemporary Comtesse Anna de Noailles (SW, V11, 32-41), the subject of the 1907 essay Die Bucher einer Liebenden (SW, V1, 1016-20), but also, somewhat surprisingly, a Villon ballad addressed to the Virgin Mary (SW, V11, 42-45). The so-called 'unproductive' or crisis years 1911 to 1913, following the completion of Malte, also reveal a not inconsiderable corpus of translations around this same theme of 'jene [...] Verlassenen, die du so viel liebender fandst als die Gestillten'. (28) Mainly prose (with the notable exception of the Vierundzwanzig Sonette der Louize Labe (SW, V11, 202-35)), they may in some sense be seen as a kind of continuation of the 'Malte-Problematik'--for example, the translation of the 'merkwurdigen, ganz unbekannten (dem Bossuet zugeschriebenen) Sermon[s], "L'amour de Madeleine"' (=Die Liebe der Magdalena, SW, V11, 72-119); (29) the Labe sonnets, together with their dedicatory preface 'A Mademoiselle Clemence de Bourges' (SW, V11, 194-201), and the--fictitious--Lettres portugaises (SW, V11, 124-93). Other notable translations from the French at this time include Maurice de Guerin's Le Centaure and, in 1913-14, Andre Gide's Le Retour de l'enfant prodigue, as well as a number of poems by Verlaine, Verhaeren, de Noailles, and Mallarme in the years up to 1919. (30)

It is, however, the decisive encounter with Valery's works which, even before Rilke's move to the bilingual (albeit predominantly francophone) canton of Valais, is of the greatest significance here. In spring 1921, in Schloss Berg am Irchel, Rilke chanced upon Le Cimetiere marin in a back number of the Nouvelle Revue Francaise and immediately translated it: (31)

[G]anz erstaunlich sind mir [...] die Dichtungen von Paul Valery, von dem ich ein Gedicht 'Le Cimetiere marin', mit solcher Aquivalenz zu ubersetzen vermochte, wie ich sie zwischen den beiden Sprachen kaum f ur erreichbar gehalten habe. [...] Paul Valery kommt von Mallarme her. (29 December 1921 to Lou Andreas-Salome: Briefe, 11, 205)

The importance of this encounter--which is often posited as a decisive breakthrough on the road to resuming the Elegies (32)--is corroborated by Rilke's later accounts: 'Valery est venu vers moi commeun autremoi-meme', Claire Goll reports him as saying, while Monique Saint-Helier cites 'J'etais seul, j'attendais, toute mon oeuvre attendait. Un jour, j'ai lu Valery, j'ai su que mon attente etait finie.' (33) Moreover, it is arguably no coincidence that, immediately prior to this discovery of Valery, it is in Berg am Irchel that Rilke first begins to reflect on translation, reflections occasioned by the versions of Jean Moreas's Stances, sent to him for comment and correction by the translator Rolf von Ungern-Sternberg. (34)

If the encounter with Paul Valery's workmay be said to have been the trigger which--the congenial surroundings of the Elegien-Ort Muzot having finally been secured--in February 1922 unleashed the completion of the Duineser Elegien, as well as the 'Vor- und Nachsturm' (the composition of the Sonette an Orpheus) Rilke's enthusiasm for Valery, far from waning, continued to flourish, occupying the greater part of the next 'Arbeitswinter' in Muzot, which he devoted in themain to the continuation of the translations from Charmes begun in spring 1921. (35) Thus on 24 January 1923 he writes to Elizabeth Ephrussi:

Ich ubersetze Paul Valery; mehrere wesentliche St ucke aus dem Buch Charmes liegen schon in, wie mir scheint, recht nah entsprechenden deutschen Versionen vor mir. Lange ist es mir nicht vergonnt gewesen--in irgend einer Ubertragungs-Arbeit--, so genau in Aequivalenten zu bleiben [...]. (36)

In his next letter (13 February 1923) he attributes this felicitious translation experience to

die unaussprechliche und (ja) oft unheimliche Beziehung [...], die Paul Valery's Werk undmeineArbeitenbald quer durchdie Luft, bald gleichsam unterirdisch, zu verbinden scheint. (37)

'pour dire tout, il faudrait savoir toutes les langues': Rilke's 'OEuvre Inconnue' (38)

Although, as we have seen, Rilke's first 'essais de latinite' (39) date back at least as far as his earliest days in Munich, his real debut as a poete d'expression francaise may be dated to the winter of 1923-24, or even the summer of 1923. It may be worth noting that, whereas inSW vol. 11 Zinn divides the third section E bauches et Fragments into two chronological sections (1899-1918 and 1921-26), the editors of KA vol. V, by contrast, divide the section Einzelgedichte into 'April 1897 bis Mai 1923' and 'September 1923 bis September 1926'. (40) According to this model, the first phase in what the editors term 'Die Entwicklung der reifen franzosischen Lyrik'--the Auftakt, or 'Neuansatz (15.9.-27.12.1923)'--starts with Rilke's stay in the Sanatorium Schoneck in late August and September 1923, with the second phase, in which 'Die franzosische Lyrik erhalt eine eigenstandige Werksignatur', beginning at the end of January 1924, after Rilke's return from his first stay in Val-Mont. It is unlikely to be a coincidence that the bilingual 'Doppelgedichte' discussed below date from this latter phase, and these biographical circumstances lend, perhaps, a more personal note to the further poetic arguments advanced below.

A number of factors, then, come together to contribute to the emergence of Rilke's French poetic voice, the chief among which may be broadly summarized under four headings, as follows:

Firstly, Rilke's disaffection with the nationalistic excesses of The First World War and its associations with all things German, or rather Prussian--'cette terrible hegemonie prussienne qui, en formant brutalement l'Allemagne unifiee, supprimait toutes ces Allemagnes simples et sympathiques d'autrefois' (41)--may, taken together with the 'Sprach- und Schaffenskrise' following the completion of Malte and the ensuing struggle to complete the Duineser Elegien, be seen as leading to a renewed, perhaps unconscious, search for new modes of poetic expression. Writing in French (once he has arrived in Switzerland) is also sometimes employed as a direct reaction against perceived German presence, e.g. in Locarno, as in this letter to Nanny Wunderly-Volkart of 15 December 1919:

je m'apercois que je vous ecris en francais. C'est par opposition sans doute contre l'air un peu trop allemand, dont parfois je me sens oppresse ici; c'est pire a Ascona, mais a Locarno aussi cela pese tout son poids [after a further few lines the letter continues in German]. (42)

Secondly, we may cite his (re-)immersion, after the interruption of the war years, in the French language, greatly abetted by his domicile, after November 1919, in the bi- (or multi-)lingual environment of Switzerland, particularly, though not exclusively, once he has settled in the francophone Valais, as he explains to Eduard Korrodi: 'nun erhob sich, im dritten Jahre meines dort Angesiedeltseins, aus mir eine Walliser Stimme, so stark und unbedingt, dass die unwillk urliche Wortgestalt in Erscheinung trat, bevor ich ihr das Mindeste gewahrt hatte' (20March 1926: Briefe, 11, 430-31). (43)

A third factor influencing Rilke's move towards French may be seen in his attempts to reconnect with the pre-war 'offene Welt', especially with 'Frankreich und dem unvergleichlichen Paris, die in meiner Entwickelung und Erinnerung eine Welt bedeuten' (ibid., p. 432), coupled with the relative accessibility, from this Swiss domicile, of the French(-speaking) world--and especially of contemporary literature in French: as he explains to Lou Andreas-Salome, 'Die Lage meines alten Turms bringts mit sich, dass vor allem franzosische Bucher zu mir kamen: es ist des Staunens kein Ende uber alles, was jetzt von dort kommt.' (44)

Fourthly, and finally, the recognition and resonance which Rilke's first tentative French poems--these 'kleine Nebengerausche' of his 'violon d'Ingres' (45)--found among his French literary friends can be said to have played a decisive part in the decision to continue indulging his 'Leyer zur linken Hand'.

As suggested above, paramount among these complex rationalizations of Rilke's unacknowledged sense of a need for some kind of new direction after the accomplishment of the Duineser Elegien and the Sonette an Orpheus is the quest, however unconscious, for new poetic possibilities, to which the encounter with other poetic voices in the act of translation may have rendered him particularly susceptible. It is on these new beginnings, as well as the reception of Rilke's French verse among his francophone contemporaries, that the remainder of this article will concentrate.

It is clear that, alongside the continued support of his long-standing friend Andre Gide, the encounter with Paul Valery's work and the latter's encouragement and approval played a crucial part in Rilke's continuing to 'succumb' to the 'temptation' of writing French verse. One example may suffice to suggest the subtle affinite between the two poets, a friendship based on cautious mutual admiration: (46) having (on 7 February 1924) already sent the painstakingly copied manuscript of his translations from Charmes to Valery with the dedication 'A Paul Valery | qui aime les resultats purement realises | cette somme | de consentement, d'obeissance | et d'activite parallele' (Chronik, p. 895), Rilke responds, on 22 February, to Valery's reply with, as he puts it,

quelques vers (?) qui m'etaient dictes a l'instant meme ou votre lettre m'a ete apportee; cette coincidence saura peut-etre excusermon envoi temeraire. Je ne pretends pas a ce que ce soit du francais, aussi la plupart du temps, si de pareilles tentations m'eprouvent, j'arrive presque toujours a resister. (Chronik, pp. 902-03)

These 'quelques vers' comprise the programmatic and self-reflexive poem Verger, published as the first poem in the eponymous cycle Verger I-VII in the collection Vergers:


Peut-etre que si j'ai ose t'ecrire,
langue pretee, c'etait pour employer
ce nom rustique dont l'unique empire
me tourmentait depuis toujours: Verger.

Pauvre poete qui doit elire
pour dire tout ce que ce nom comprend,
un a peu pres trop vague qui chavire,
ou pire: la cl oture qui defend.

Verger: o privilege d'une lyre
de pouvoir te nommer simplement;
nom sans pareil qui les abeilles attire,
nom qui respire et attend ...

Nom clair qui cache le printemps antique,
tout aussi plein que transparent,
et qui dans ses syllabes symetriques
redouble tout et devient abondant. (47)

Without wishing to embark on an exhaustive interpretation here, it seems possible to read this poem on a programmatic, poetological level as an account of the attractions of writing in the 'langue entre toutes aimee'. (48) If the phrase from Die Aufzeichnungen des Malte Laurids Brigge, 'er war ein Dichter und hasste das Ungefahre' (SW, V1, 863), may be taken as one of Rilke's few programmatic utterances, then one may take the view that the word verger--along with other favourite French terms such as offrande, absence, paume--is one of the instances where, in Rilke's view, a concept can be expressed more succinctly, indeed less 'vaguely', in another language, yet without paraphrase or, as here, defensive over-definition (the narrow distinction between this 'vagueness' and 'la cloture qui defend') than is possible in his 'native' tongue. This is explicitly stated in the letter to Antoinette de Bonstetten of 12 April 1924 cited above: 'Je me rappelle, par exemple, qu'une des premieres raisons de me passer une poesie francaise fut l'absence de tout equivalent a ce delicieux mot: Verger [...].'

Accordingly, 'nommer simplement', without the need for either circumlocution or restriction ('un a peu pres trop vague qui chavire'), may be taken as shorthand for a new mode(l) of poetic expression between evocation and revelation, 'tout aussi plein que transparent'. Similarly, the 'syllabes symetriques' of equal, apparently non-hierarchical stresses, relating not only to the single word 'verger' (as indeed to offrande and absence) but also to the symmetry of the scansion of both word and poem, point to a further 'ideal' of equivalences and complementarity, even self-sufficiency, reminiscent of (albeit by no means identical to) the earlier poetics striven for in the Neue Gedichte and the Requiem poems. Thus the word 'verger', and the poem it encapsulates, may itself be seen as suggestive of a mirroring effect, albeit here not a closed circle, but 'abondant' and fruitful: 'redouble tout et devient abondant'. In this it reflects both the fertility of the orchard and the poetic process--symbolized by the 'Nom clair' 'verger'--it suggests. This may, finally, also be seen as a comment, or reflection, on Rilke's own new 'lyrische Zweisprachigkeit' (to quote Manfred Engel's term), suggesting as it does a kind of cross-fertilization between languages, and in this sense the poem may be seen as experimental, while also anticipating both the main French production and the 'mirrored' 'Doppelgedichte', such as Der Magier/Le Magicien; in this case the word 'verger' mirrors an absence in the poet's first language. (49)

While the poem Verger, taking as its subject the writing in the 'langue pretee', may be seen to be a particularly clear example, in general Rilke's French poetry does seem to have a greater self-reflexive poetological tendency than many of his (earlier) German works. Numerous examples might be cited, but the first poem in Vergers with its gentle questioning and the allusion to 'une voix, presque mienne' (KA, v, 10) may serve here to illustrate the slight distancing (hence liberating) effect, and at the same time greater self-consciousness (however 'involuntary' the inspiration) implicit in composing in a langue other than the maternelle, as well as the heightened awareness of the different potential--whether lexical, syntactical, or metrical--for poetic expression of a different language. (50) This seems linked to the key notion of space(s) or lacunae implicit in the crucial term absence, the absence of which in German Rilke adduces, even as he completes the Elegien, as one reason for looking beyond his own native German:

'Offrande' und 'verger' und das Wort 'absence', in dem grossen positiven Sinn, in dem Valery es gepragt hat,--das waren die schmerzlichen Stellen, die mir manchmal wahrend der Arbeit wunschenswerth gemacht hatten, die avantagen der einzelnen Sprachen alle in einer zu fassen und dann zu schreiben: dann zu schreiben!! (51)

Valery's response to this unexpected poetic offrande from his new-found translator and admirer is encouraging--on 20 March 1924 he writes, 'Delicieux "Verger"'--adding that while he himself is unable, not knowing German, to read Rilke's translation of his own verse, 'J'ai du moins votre poeme francais entre les mains et l'etrange grace qui est la sienne me donne une impression directe et inestimable de votre poesie pure et profonde' (Chronik, p. 908). In due course it is none other than Valery who first publishes, later that same year, three of Rilke's French poems in Commerce, (52) with further poems appearing in La Nouvelle Revue Francaise and La Revue Nouvelle in 1925. (53)

It is Valery and Gide, too, who are later instrumental in selecting poems for the volume Vergers for its publication in the series 'Une oeuvre, un portrait' published by the Nouvelle Revue Francaise, and both seem favourably impressed by the result when the volume in question appears in 1926. (54) Valery writes to Rilke on 8 July 1926:

j'ai les 'Vergers'. Vous ne pouvez concevoir l'etrangete etonnamment delicate de votre son francais. Je suis assez fier de vous avoir un peu sollicite de rendre ces sons singuliers et de composer en notre langue ces subtiles melodies. Il y a du Verlaine souvent dans cette invention. Verlaine plus abstrait. (55)

Gide, meanwhile, being able to read Rilke in German as well as French, and thus in a position to be able to compare his two 'voices', comments two days later:

Recu hier 'Vergers'. C'est votre voix, votre geste, c'est le charme de votre regard ... [...] vos poesies francaises m'apportent une joie nouvelle, de qualite un peu differente et plus rare encore peut-etre, plus delicate, plus subtile. (Chronik, p. 1059)

It is a curious fact of Rilke's last years in Switzerland, his 'Schweizer Jahre', that he should arguably be more appreciated by, and feted in--and certainly have more contact with--Parisian poetic circles than with German(-speaking) ones. Egon Schwarz attributes this, in part at least, to his apparently corresponding exactly to the prevailing French idea of the quintessential poet: 'in Frankreich gilt Rilke sowohl auf Grund seiner Werke als auch seines ganzen Habitus als Prototyp des Dichterischen schlechthin'; (56) but no doubt it is related to the extent of his engagement with, and facility in, the host language 'auf geborgtem Boden'.

Nevertheless, as Bernhard Boschenstein has pointed out, (57) despite the acclaim from his French contemporaries (who were, no doubt, quietly flattered by such aspirations on Rilke's part), relatively little critical attention has been paid to Rilke's French poems, their inclusion by Ernst Zinn in vol. 11 of the Samtliche Werke (1955-66) notwithstanding, and there is correspondingly less published on them in English. (58) Indeed, earlier critics have tended to be rather dismissive of Rilke's French verse, viewing it as something of an anti-climax. Batterby may serve as a typical example of this:

After the consummation of the Elegies and the Sonnets came the diminuendo. Rilke pursued, with notable pertinacity, his translations of Valery. He wrote his original French poems, but these, if not without academic interest, scarcely add to his reputation. They may be regarded as the almost recreational exercise of a poet whose toil was over, a modest memorial of his debt to France. (Batterby, pp. 191-92)

Only relatively recently, with the publication in 2003, as volume v of the Kommentierte Ausgabe, of the Supplementband: Gedichte in franzosischer Sprache, together with the Rilke-Handbuch in 2004, has the full extent of Rilke's prodigious creative output in the French language begun to be realized and to receive renewed serious critical attention.

Rilke himself, unsurprisingly, was inclined to refer to his French output in modest, even apologetic terms, as we have seen variously describing it as 'eine kleine Nebenproduktion' or 'Nebenstunden', as a 'violon d'Ingres' or 'diese leichtere Leyer zur linken Hand, diese spate Nebenjugend auf geborgtem Boden'. (59) That he was aware that his francophilie was not universally popular in those post-war years is revealed in a letter of 9 February 1926 concerning the possibility of the Insel-Verlag publishing Valery, in an--ironic--apology to Katharina Kippenberg for (re-)lapsing into French:

Was mich angeht, so habe ich an die zwei Jahre vor dem [Monsieur] Teste-Problem gestanden ohne den Eingang zu finden, in den unerhorten kleinen Tempel ou sur l'autel, dans la flamme pure, se consume l'offrande ineffable de l'absence feconde ... (Verzeihen Sie, dass ich das franzosisch formuliere, ich finde keine entsprechenden Ausdrucke ...). (Briefe, 11, 406)

This short quotation contains no fewer than two of Rilke's favourite 'missing' expressions, offrande and absence, the latter in the wonderfully telling--and arguably untranslatable--phrase 'absence feconde'. To Claire Goll, meanwhile, he describes the poems copied out for her from his 'carnet de poche' disparagingly enough (although not entirely without self-irony) as

quelques improvisations [...] Je n'ose pas dire que ce soit du francais; c'est un elan du souvenir vers une langue entre toutes aimee. Les vers qui un peu, malgre moi, s'y rapprochent, sentent, je crains, le pastiche. Mais chez toi ils ne seront ni blames, ni meconnus, mais aimes tout simplement. (60)

The apparent disingenuousness ('malgre moi') of such remarks is echoed in numerous other letters in which Rilke consistently refers to his French verse in terms of a gift, a bonus, or, as we have seen, as an irresistible urge or a 'temptation' which he claims to be powerless to withstand, for example in his apologia to Korrodi of 20 March 1926: 'Nicht um eine beabsichtigte Arbeit handelt es sich hier, sondern um ein Staunen, ein Nachgeben, eine Uberwaltigung' (Briefe, 11, 431).

In this same letter, though, Rilke tellingly presents these late poems under the guise of repaying a debt, in the 'langue pretee', to his adoptive landscape the Valais (Quatrains valaisans!), a grateful response to having finally found the Elegien-Ort on francophone 'terroir', referring to both

[...] die Freude, mich unvermutet an einer mehr und mehr erkannten Landschaft zu bewahren; [...] mit ihr umgehen zu durfen im Bereich ihrer einzigen Laute und Akzente


[D]er Wunsch, vor allem, dem Canton du Valais den Beweis einermehr als nur privaten Dankbarkeit fur soviel (aus Land und Leuten) Empfangenes wiederzugeben. (Briefe, 11, 431, 432)

More significantly, though--in an acknowledgement of the inherent difficulty, even untranslatability, of his own poetic achievement--Rilke presents his French poems as an opportunity to offer his non-German-reading francophone friends and fellow poets a more adequate example of his poetry than he believes to be possible in translation. Sending some of his earliest French poems, the 'Souvenirs de Muzot', to the artist Alice Bailly on 11 February 1924, he offers the comment: 'Vous ne lisez pas l'allemand ..., ce qui ne m'autorise guere, je le sais, de pretendre que ce soit du francais' (cit. Chronik, p. 897), while to Korrodi (continuing the 'Rundgang um die eigene Sache') he offers the following self-justification:

[...] die Erwagung, dass f ur mein Gedicht wohl kaum je gelingen d urfte, was in Bezug auf die Prosa der 'Aufzeichnungen des M. L. Brigge' k urzlich erreicht worden ist: eine wirklich entsprechende und gultige Ubertragung. Durch Maurice Betz; in Vorbereitung bei Emile-Paul Freres, Paris, rue de l'Abbaye 14. Was man nun durch diese von meiner Arbeit erfahrt, mochte am Ende durch meine franzosischen Verse (selbst wenn man sie nur als 'Kuriositat' dazu nehmen mag) besser erganzt erscheinen als durch irgendwelche Bemuhungen, die deutsche Sprachgestalt meiner erwachsenen Gedichte einer ungefahren franzosischen Fassung anzunahern. (Briefe, 11, 432)

The Absence of 'absence': New Possibilities

If we look beyond the captatio benevolentiae of Rilke's various attempts at selfjustification summarized in the 'Rundgang um die eigene Sache' in the letter to Korrodi above, wemay thus discern a search, not quite openly admitted (least of all to himself), for new possibilities of poetic expression, for something behind and between languages, ' uber den Sprachen gedacht', as he says of Valery, commending the latter's early work Introduction a la Methode de Leonard de Vinci to Katharina Kippenberg: 'universell in seinem Wesen, ist es uber den Sprachen gedacht, obwohl festgestellt in einem Franzosisch von dauernder Ordnung'. (61) Indeed, one might venture to suggest that Rilke's later (or rather 'latest') poetics consist of a quest for articulation of this new space or non-space, a quest, as Gerard Bucher puts it, for

a more essential form of poetic utterance that would transcend the resources of conventional languages [...] the poem as the tracing of a path leading to a state of being written in a language that has been newly invented. Thus, Rilke wished to surpass both the dimension of mere translation [...] and, ultimately, to escape the excessively narrow character of all traditions [...] shattering [...] the iron ring of inherited cultural identities. (Bucher, p. 259, emphasis original)

In writing in a new or different language, then, Rilke is not so much attempting to enter into an alternative (here French) poetic tradition as to discover for himself that 'primeur d'usage' which he articulates in the letter to Gide quoted below, as well as reinforcing the sense of the difference of poetic language expressed in the well-known letter to Grafin Margot Sizzo of 17 March 1922. (62)

Ironically, in spring 1907 (at the time of some of his most intense work on the Neue Gedichte) Rilke had written of the importance of not succumbing to the temptation of writing in another language, but rather of the need to cultivate one's mother tongue as the supreme and only possible medium of expression:

ich bin [...] zu der Einsicht gekommen, dass man [...] seine Kraft daran setzen muss, in der eigenen Sprache alles zu finden, mit ihr alles zu sagen: denn sie, mit der wir bis tief ins Unbewusste hinein zusammenhangen, und nur sie kann uns [...] schliesslich die Moglichkeit geben, ganz prazise und genau und bestimmt bis in den Nachklang jenes Nachklangs hinein, unseres Erlebens Endg ultigkeit mit ihr darzustellen. (Briefe, 1, 253-54)

However, these comments to Ernst Norlind, as earlier cited, were prefaced by an admission that some 'innere Erlebnisse' do indeed find their quintessential form most readily in another language, with the poet claiming to be 'immer noch [...] genotigt, gewisse Dinge franzosisch zu schreiben, um sie uberhaupt ausformen zu konnen' (ibid.).

This sense that some things are more aptly expressed in another language, or that each language has its own distinctive range of expression, was in Rilke's case not necessarily confined to French, as Rilke confesses to Marie von Mutius on 15 January 1918:

Vor siebzehn Jahren, in Russland [sic], war ich nahe daran, mir diese Sprache, als die meinem Gem ut nachste, sogar fur meinen kunstlerischen Ausdruck aneignen zu wollen--(es ware selbstverstandlich, ohne enorme Verluste nicht moglich gewesen--[...]. (Briefe, 1, 657)

Indeed, Rilke did in fact compose a few early poems in Russian. Later, Italian too was to tempt him, somewhat unexpectedly, in Berg am Irchel, shortly after composing the French 'Preface a Mitsou' and the first cycle of 'found poems' Aus dem Nachlass des Grafen C. W. (SW, 11, 112-29). (63) Writing to Nanny Wunderly-Volkart on 17 December 1920, he comments:

Das Deutsch ist mir widerwartig heute und zweideutig--, ich habe ein italianisches Gedicht angefangen, es heisst herrlich, aber ich kann kein Italianisch, schon wollt ichs dem Grafen C. W. zuschreiben, der kann scheinbar auch keins: vier entzuckende Zeilen stehen da, ich fuhle, liesse ichmich diese Nacht hypnotisieren, so diktierte ich das ganze in einem Schlafathem hinaus: denn es steckt in mir, malgre mon ignorance. Ob sichs ubersetzen lasst, weiss ich nicht,--ich bin w uthend, dass derGraf nicht italianisch kann. (NWV, 1, 361)

The 'italianisches Gedicht' referred to is published as La nascita del sorriso (SW, 11, 454-55) and consists of four lines of Italian followed by a prose sketch and long poem in regular rhyming quatrains in German (SW, 11, 455-57); this form is unusual for Rilke at the time, at any rate as far as his German work is concerned (his subsequent French poems will typically consist of between two and five rhyming quatrains), and places it in close proximity to the 'C.W.' poems; neither the prose Entwurf nor the subsequent poem Die Entstehung des Lachelns may, however, be considered a 'translation' of the Italian in the conventional sense. (64)

Such isolated experiments notwithstanding, however, it is French which--for reasons that need no further comment here--is the 'foreign' language in which Rilke felt most at home. Thus it happens that, just before this Italian intermezzo in Berg, while looking for a way to reconnect with and continue the Elegien, he announces to Nanny Wunderly-Volkart the composition of

meine Preface fur Balthazar K's Katzen-Erlebnis [...] Die erste Arbeit hier, wennmans so ernst nehmen will. Aber es hat mich gefreut, etwas Franz osisches hervorzubringen, franzosisch gedacht, nirgends in Gedanken ubersetzt aus einem deutschen Einfall. (65)

What is more, Rilke's venture (or 'trespass') into the, for him, relatively uncharted territory of another language is charged with all the significance of a new beginning. This is described explicitly in terms of a rejuvenation, 'etwas wie eine zweite Jugend auf neuer Ebene', (66) and he writes to Eduard Korrodi of 'die begl uckende Erfahrung, j unger zu sein, fast jung im Gebrauch einer zweiten Sprache, in der man bisher nur aufnehmend oder praktisch betatigt gewesen war' (20 March 1926: Briefe 11, 431). Surprised by this 'steigender Uberfluss' which 'einen nun, im Raume des namenlosen Lebens, zu tragen begann' (ibid.), he describes in a letter to Andre Gide the sense of 'primeur d'usage' this new language engenders, expressing

Ma surprise heureuse [...] a avoir pu recevoir tout cela, a avoir ete assez jeune pour rendre mienne cette jeunesse verbale delicieusement offerte. Car vous ne pouvez pas vous imaginer, mon cher Gide, comment l'obeissance active a cette langue admiree m'a rajeuni. Chaque mot, en me permettant de l'employer a mon aise et selon ma verite pratiquante, m'apportait je ne sais quelle primeur d'usage. Cela ressemblait si peu au travail et cela en comportait cependant toutes les decouvertes. (10 July 1926, cit. KA, V, 422-23)

It is, then, not particularly surprising that, having arguably expressed 'unseres Erlebens Endgultigkeit' (1907 letter to Ernst Norlind, above) in German in the completion of the Duineser Elegien and Sonette an Orpheus, Rilke should, half a lifetime's immersion in French language and culture later, be ready--however unconsciously--to explore and exploit its possibilities as a new poetic medium. In the article cited above, Bucher frames this as 'no less than the challenge of a poetic utterance ex nihilo' (p. 259), and in this context, with its implicit sense of having taken German to the limits of its current possibilities, the employment of another language seems to suggest the possibility of an 'absence feconde', a new, virgin 'in-between' space in which, ex nihilo, the different phonetic and semantic possibilities of writing in another language, a 'langue' 'presque mienne', become a kind of through-the-looking-glass world of potential, if one will, which, in the words of the poem Verger I, 'dans ses syllabes symetriques redouble tout et devient abondant'.

This process of writing in a different language may, then, be conceived of as a kind of poetological experiment on Rilke's part, exploring or identifying a new space for poetic utterance 'uber' or 'hinter den Sprachen', or perhaps in the space between words and between languages. This can be read as what is apostrophized as 'das Unsagliche' in the dedicatory poem to Witold Hulewicz, the Polish poet and translator of Die Aufzeichnungen des Malte Laurids Brigge and the Duineser Elegien, inscribed in a copy of the latter in February 1924:
   Glucklich, die wissen, dass hinter allen
   Sprachen das Unsagliche steht;
   dass, von dort her, ins Wohlgefallen
   Grosse zu uns ubergeht!

   Unabhangig von diesen Brucken
   die wir mit Verschiedenembaun:
   so dass wir immer, aus jedem Entzucken
   in ein heiter Gemeinsames schaun.
   (SW, 11, 259-60)

It is of course no coincidence that this is a dedication to a translator, written fromone poet/translator to another, nor that it is composed almost immediately after the first 'bilingual' experiments of the 'Doppelgedichte' of February 1924, Der Magier/Le Magicien and Das Fullhorn/Corne d'abondance (SW, 11, 150/ 649; 149/521). The sense of liberation and rejuvenation implicit in such new possibilities in another language seems to enable the expression, not so much of final certainties ('Endgultigkeit'), but, as tentatively suggested in the letter to Nanny Wunderly-Volkart quoted above, of new openings, spaces, nuances, absence.

It would thus appear that for Rilke, the employment of another language as a poetic medium, often described ironically as an indulgence or a surrendering to a temptation, may represent, like--and unlike--translation, a kind of 'Zwischenraum der Sprache', (67) a new poetological space between and beyond language(s); a space in which seemingly incompatible realms, unbridgeable divides, may be overcome and coexist, contradictorily but harmoniously, as and in the 'heiter Gemeinsames' of a purely poetic, inner universe. This 'espace tout interieur et imaginaire' is one which can necessarily be realized only on a poetological level, opening up within a poem or work of art in a process articulated in the letter of 26 November 1925 to the Swiss artist Sophy Giauque as 'cette reussite rare et exquise qui consiste a placer une chose imaginaire dans

un espace approprie, c'est a dire tout aussi interieur', un espace tout interieur et imaginaire sans faire aucun emprunt aupres de l'espace reel qu'imitent toutes les peintures (et d'ailleurs aussi tous les poemes) incapables a se creer cet espace transpose, profond et intrinseque ... (Briefe, 11, 380)

This is explicitly linked to the 'Verwandlung ins Unsichtbare' familiar from the Duineser Elegien and perhaps even more so from the Sonette an Orpheus: (68)

[...] nous voila charges de la transmutation, de la resurrection, de la transfiguration de toutes choses.Car comment supporter, comment sauver le visible, si ce n'est en en faisant le langage de l'absence, de l'invisible? Et comment parler cette langue qui restemuette, a moins qu'on la chante eperdument, sans aucune velleite de se faire comprendre. (Briefe, 11, 381)

None the less, the notion of a 'langage de l'absence, de l'invisible', analogous to the 'espace transpose, profond et intrinseque' of art--a space in Rilke's terms not so much appropriated or occupied as opened up, explored, sketched out in outline and allowed to develop its own parameters and contours without the poet appearing consciously to impose his will on it--seems to hint at a poetics beyond 'Aussprache', utterance, language: Rilke's poetics at the end of his life, as suggested in his French verse and some of his 'spateste Gedichte' in German and expressed in this not at all elegiac letter, would seem to suggest an affirmation of a long-held belief (echoing of course the French Symbolists, and possibly mediated by Valery) in the true function and tendency of poetic language as silence, evoking, but not saying, 'das Unsagliche' 'hinter allen Sprachen' or 'uber den Sprachen' in which, in Valery's phrase, 'Chaque atome de silence | Est la chance d'un fruit mur'. (69)

The importance of Rilke's 'Leyer zur linken Hand' is, then, intrinsic to the poetics of what Manfred Engel terms his 'spateste Gedichte'. Like the fountain in Berg, whose constant murmuring (indeed 'bruit vital') 'limite le silence', (70) they appear as a circling of silence, suggesting perhaps in the inner ear or at the corner of the eye the beginning of an answer to the rhetorical question above, significantly framed in French: 'comment parler cette langue qui reste muette'.

Thus one might argue that in Rilke's last years it is in his French poetry--or in the awareness of the possibilities of working in, and between, more than one language--that the potential for poetic expression of 'le langage de l'absence, de l'invisible' begins to be explored and developed. The impetus for the discovery or opening up of this new poetic space 'tout interieur et imaginiare' may, as suggested above, be in some measure attributable to Rilke's felicitous 'discovery' of Valery at a moment when he was uniquely susceptible to new poetic possibilities, 'une vision des metamorphoses'.

By way of conclusion, one may note that Valery himself was happy enough to take credit--or at least responsibility--for encouraging Rilke's French production. Contributing to a memorial issue of the Neue Zurcher Zeitung soon after Rilke's death, he claims:

Ich habe Rilke veranlasst, franzosische Gedichte zu schreiben; ich wollte sie in der Zeitschrift 'Commerce' veroffentlichen. Ich mass ihnen eine besondere Bedeutung zu, vereinigten sich doch in diesem Sonderfall eines Dichters slawische und deutsche Substanzen; dazuwar ermit skandinavischen Gehalten sehr vertraut, auchvon franzosischer Kultur erfullt. Der Spross einer alten Familie aus einem Landstrich der Adria [!] war ja ehemals Freund und Vertrauter von Rodin gewesen. Aus all diesen Elementen bildete er sich zu einem wesentlich europaischen Menschen. Nichts ist wertvoller als Vertreter dieser seltenen Gattung, in denenman die ersten Reprasentanten eines kunftigen Zeitalters erblicken darf. (71)

What begins, then, as light relief ('un petit jeu, rien de plus'), a game and divertissement, a repayment of a debt to the adoptive pays(age) in the 'langue pretee', becomes, finally, a poeticmedium in its own right, and in so doing comes to embody a new direction towards 'das Unsagliche' 'hinter allen Sprachen' or, more exactly, towards 'cette langage qui reste muette': 'le langage de l'absence, de l'invisible'.

I wish to express my thanks to the British Academy for enabling me to carry out research for this article at the Deutsches Literatur archive Marbach.

(1) 'diese leichtere Leyer zur linken Hand' (Rainer Maria Rilke to Katharina Kippenberg, letter of 9 June 1926, in Rainer Maria Rilke--Katharina Kippenberg: Briefwechsel (Wiesbaden: Insel, 1954), p. 593) is one of the many semi-ironic sobriquets Rilke uses for his French verse written in the Valais during his last years. This article will explore some of the ways in which Rilke's preoccupation with the French language leads him to employ it in the quest for a new beginning and new modes of poetic expression towards the end of his life.

(2) See K. A. J. Batterby, Rilke and France: A Study in Poetic Development (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1966). There is a considerable body of secondary literature on the subject of Rilke and France in all three languages, usefully summarized by Karin Wais, Studien zu Rilkes Valery-Ubertragungen (Tubingen: Niemeyer, 1967), p. 3, nn. 1-2. For a more recent overview of the topic and secondary literature see the section 'Frankreich' by Dorothea Lauterbach in Rilke-Handbuch: Leben--Werk--Wirkung, ed. by Manfred Engel Stuttgart: Metzler, 2004), pp. 60-88; see also the comprehensive bibliography in the Kommentierte Ausgabe: Supplementband (=vol. v: Gedichte in franzosischer Sprache, mit deutschen Prosafassungen, ed. by Manfred Engel and Dorothea Lauterbach; prose translations into German by Ratus Luck (Frankfurt a.M. and Leipzig: Insel, 2003)), pp. 733-44. Further useful information may be found in the Blatter der Rilke-Gesellschaft, vols 19: Rilke und Frankreich (1992), and 26: 'Auf geborgtem Boden': Rilke und die franzosische Sprache (2005), particularly the articles by Bernhard Boschenstein and Manfred Engel.

(3) Rainer Maria Rilke, Duineser Elegien (Die funfte Elegie), in Samtliche Werke, pub. by the Rilke-Archiv (vols i-vi in Verbindung mit Ruth Sieber-Rilke, ed. by Ernst Zinn (Wiesbaden: Insel, 1957-66); vol. Vii: Die Ubertragungen, in Verbindung mitHella Sieber-Rilke, ed. by Walter Simon, Karin Wais, andErnst Zinn (Frankfurta.M. andLeipzig: Insel, 1997)), I (1957), 704 (cited henceforth as SW). See also Rainer Maria Rilke, Werke: Kommentierte Ausgabe in vier Banden, ed. by Manfred Engel, Ulrich Fulleborn, Horst Nalewski, and August Stahl, 4 vols (Frankfurt a.M. and Leipzig: Insel, 1996) plus Supplementband of French poems (see preceding note) (cited henceforth as KA).

(4) Formoredetail on these spiritual and actual encounters--crucially preparedby the Worpswede friendships with Clara Westhoff and Paula Becker respectively--see Jo Catling, 'Rilke and the " Ecole de Paris"', in Essays in Memory of Michael Parkinson and Janine Dakyns, ed. by Christopher Smith (=Norwich Papers, 4 (1996)), pp. 193-202, revised and updated as '"Die Komplikation, dassdie Frau Kunstler ist": Rilke und die" Ecole de Paris"', in Korrespondenzen: Festschrift fur Joachim W. Storck, ed. by Rudi Schweikert (St Ingbert: Rohrig, 1999), pp. 351 65.

(5) Requiem. Fur eine Freundin, SW, I, 645-56; Fur Wolf Graf von Kalckreuth, SW, I, 657-64.

(6) Rainer MariaRilke, Briefe in zwei Banden, ed. By Horst Nalewski (Frankfurt a.M. and Leipzig: Insel, 1991), II, 236-37. All references are to this edition unless otherwise stated (cited henceforth as Briefe followed by volume and page reference).

(7) See also Vaclav Cerny, Rainer Maria Rilke, Prag, Bohmen und die Tschechen, trans. by Jaromir Povejsil and Gitta Wolfova (Prague: Artia, 1966), especially pp. 9-11.

(8) 12 April 1924 to Antoinette de Bonstetten: Rainer Maria Rilke, Lettres autour d'un jardin (Paris: La Delirante, 1977), p. 22. There is a certain irony in this comment, given that at the time of writing the separation is no longer complete, as he comments in the same letter: 'J'ai reussi pendant quelque temps--, puis, tout d'un coup, cet hiver, le francais commencait a empieter sur le terrain qu'il devait proteger. Un peu malgre moi j'ai fini par remplir tout un cahier de "vers" francais' (loc. cit.).

(9) Cf. Rilke to Renee Favre, 18 November 1925: 'J'ai parle le francais depuis ma toute premiere enfance'(Rainer Maria Rilke, Briefe an Schweizer Freunde, erweiterte und kommentierte Ausgabe, ed. by Ratus Luck with Hugo Sarbach (Frankfurt a.M. and Leipzig: Insel, 1994), p. 470; quoted KA, V, 421.

(10) Carl Sieber, Rene Rilke: Die Jugend Rainer Maria Rilkes (Leipzig: Insel, 1932), p. 72, who earlier makes the bold claim'Die Erziehung Rilkes,der kein Wort Tschechischsprach,war bewusst deutsch, namentlich von seiten der Mutter' (p. 31). However, Sieber's not entirely impartial source is in turn Phia Rilke: as Clara Magr notes, 'Es steht fest, dass die Mutter Phia zu jener im bohmischen Bereich genugsambekannten Gattung von Deutschen gehorte, die grundsatzlich Augen und Ohren vor der Kultur des neben ihnen lebenden Volkes verschlossen und bei denen es zum guten Ton gehorte, nicht tschechisch zu konnen' (Clara Magr, 'Sprach Rilke tschechisch?', Blatter der Rilke-Gesellschaft, 13 (1986), 83-92 (p. 84)). See also J. P. Stern, 'Uber Prager deutsche Literatur', in Begegnung mit dem 'Fremden': Grenzen--Traditionen--Vergleiche, Akten des VIII. Internationalen Germanisten Kongresses, Tokyo 1990, 11 vols (Munich: iudicium, 1991), I, 6275, and Peter Demetz, Rene Rilkes Prager Jahre (Dusseldorf: Diederichs, 1953), p. 34. In this context it is, perhaps, ironic that the Figaro obituary of Rilke should refer to him--entirely accurately--as 'le grand poete tcheque d'expression francaise' (Le Figaro, 30 December 1926, in Hans W. Panthel, Materialien zu Rainer Maria Rilkes Tod (Bonn: Bouvier, 1982), p. 309).

(11) Cf. Rilke's own semi-ironic comment in the letter to Renee Favre quoted above (18 November 1925): 'j'ai depuis toujours risque quelques lettres (que je me resignais de savoir pleines de fautes), mais de faire des vers dans cette langue si hautainement renfermee et si precise devant elle-meme, et encore de permettre qu'on publiat ces vers: mon Dieu, quelle audace. En serai-je puni?' (KA, V, 421).

For a detailed account of the ensuing 'Fall Rilke' see Manfred Engel's commentary in KA, V, 409-15 (as well as the bibliography pp. 742-44); for Rilke's own summary of it, see his 'Rundgang um die eigene Sache' in the letter to Eduard Korrodi of 20 March 1926 (Briefe, II, 429-33), cited extensively below.

(12) For further information see Rainer Maria Rilke und Osterreich, ed. by Joachim W. Storck (Linz: Linzer Veranstaltungsgesellschaft, 1986), in particular the articles by Storck, 'Rilke, Stifter und die "Idee" Osterreichs', pp. 75-85, andReiner Marx, 'Rilkes osterreichische Heimatlosigkeit', pp. 86-101.

(13) Joachim W. Storck, 'Rilkes "jubelnde Vaterlandslosigkeit"', in Rilke-Rezeptionen/Rilke Reconsidered, ed. by Sigrid Bauschinger and Susan L. Cocalis (Tubingen and Basel: Francke, 1995), pp. 1-14 (p. 2).

(14) 4 June 1921 to Reinhold von Walter, in Rainer Maria Rilke: Briefe zur Politik, ed. by Joachim W. Storck (Frankfurt a.M. and Leipzig: Insel, 1992), p. 349 (cited henceforth as Br. Pol.).

(15) For a detailed account of this see Rainer Maria Rilke: Schweizer Vortragreise 1919, ed. by Ratus Luck (Frankfurt a.M.: Insel, 1986).

(16) 20 January 1920 to Leopold von Schlozer: Briefe, 11, 50.

(17) Rilke did in fact return to Paris--for ten days, on regaining a passport, at the end of October 1920 (see Ingeborg Schnack, Rainer Maria Rilke: Chronik seines Lebens und seines Werkes, 2nd edn (Frankfurt a.M.: Insel, 1996), pp. 705-06 (cited henceforth as Chronik)), and for several months at the beginning of 1925. Cf. Renee Lang, 'Les lectures francaises de Rilke', Preuves, 5.49 (1955), 76-79.

(18) SW, 11, 691; from the poem beginning 'Ce sont les jours ou les fontaines vides' (Paris, early September 1902).

(19) SW, V1, 1220; KA, V, 146. The poem prefaces a letter to Nora Goudstikker of 25 April 1897 (cf. Chronik, p. 58; SW, V1, 1220-21; KA, V, 575)--and reads rather like a continuation, or perhaps pale imitation, of Gregh's poem(see below).

(20) Chronik, p. 62. Gregh's original poem was written in October 1896 and Rilke's translation published in the Wiener Rundschau, 2.21, 15 September 1897. However, when it was reprinted in 1908 for inclusion in an anthology, Rilke insisted on remaining anonymous: see SW, V11, 7 and 1235 (notes).

(21) For a survey of Rilke's translation oeuvre and its symbiosis with his own poetic production see Jo Catling, '"Parallele Kurven im Sprach-Raum": Uber Rilke und Ubersetzen', in Halbe Sachen: Dokument der Wolfenbutteler Ubersetzergesprache I-III, ed. by Olaf Kutzmutz and Peter Waterhouse (Wolfenbuttel: Bundesakademie, 2004), pp. 142-61, as well as Rilke-Handbuch, ed. by Engel, pp. 454-79.

(22) SW, 11, 689-90; originally included in the Schmargendorfer Tagebuch (entries of 10, 21, and 25 November 1899: Rainer Maria Rilke, Tagebucher aus der Fruhzeit, ed. by Ruth Sieber-Rilke and Carl Sieber (Leipzig: Insel, 1942), pp. 191-93 (see also pp. 197-200); see SW, 11, 803, note).

(23) On Rilke's reception of Baudelaire see e.g. Adrian Stevens, 'La sensation du neuf: Rilke, Baudelaire und die Kunstauffassung der Moderne', in Rilke und die Moderne, ed. by Adrian Stevens and Fred Wagner (Munich: iudicium, 2000), pp. 226-46; id., 'Das maltesche Paris in seiner ganzen Vollzahligkeit: Rilke, Cezanne und Baudelaire', Etudes germaniques, 53 (1998), 365-96; Anthony Stephens, 'Rilke als Leser Baudelaires: Malte Laurids Brigge und die Petits poemes en prose', in Rilke und die Weltliteratur, ed. by Manfred Engel and Dieter Lamping (Dusseldorf and Zurich: Artemis @Winkler, 1999), pp. 85-106.

(24) It is disappointing that Tina Simon devotes so little space to this aspect of reception in the otherwise excellent volume Rilke als Leser (Frankfurt a.M.: Peter Lang, 2001). This may, however, be explained by the subtitle: Untersuchungen zum Rezeptionsverhalten. Ein Beitrag zur Zeitbegegnung des Dichters wahrend des ersten Weltkrieges.

(25) Rainer Maria Rilke et Merline: correspondance 1920-1926, ed. by Dieter Bassermann (Zurich: Niehans, 1954), p. 458 (cited henceforth as Merline). The impact of Rilke's relationship with Balthus's mother, the painter Baladine Klossowska ('Merline'), for Rilke's writing in French is not to be underestimated--the correspondence is, significantly, written predominantly in French, even though both correspondents are native speakers of German, and it is thus no coincidence that she should be one of the first to learn of the 'vague "vague"' (loc. cit.) of French verse which begins to sweep Rilke along in September 1923.

(26) See Wais, Studien zu Rilkes Valery-Ubertragungen; also Richard Cox, Figures of Transformation: Rilke and the Example of Valery (London: Institute of Germanic Studies, 1979); Maja Goth, Rilke und Valery: Aspekte ihrer Poetik (Bern and Munich: Francke, 1981); and the various publications by Renee Lang, in particular Rilke, Gide et Valery (Boulogne-sur-Seine: Pretexte, 1953).

(27) SW, V11, 14-31. These were--presumably--translated in connection with Rilke's lecture on Maeterlinck delivered on 9 February 1902 in Bremen (SW, V, 527-49; Rilke's translation of 'Die sieben Jungfraun von Orlamunde' pp. 536-37), where he directed Maeterlinck's Soeur Beatrice (in a translation by Friedrich von Oppeln-Bronikowski; see Chronik, pp. 137-38, 140; SW, V1, 1396-1406). On Rilke and Maeterlinck see Monika Ritzer, 'Rilke und Maeterlinck', in Rilke und die Weltliteratur, ed. by Engel and Lamping, pp. 66-84, as well as Hans W. Panthel, Rainer Maria Rilke und Maurice Maeterlinck (Berlin: Schmidt, 1973).

(28) SW, 1, 686. For more on these translations and how they relate to the trope of 'besitzlose Liebe' see Jo Catling, 'Translating Desire: Elizabeth Barrett-Browning and Rilke's Women in Love', in Rilke und die Moderne, ed. by Adrian Stevens and Fred Wagner (Munich: iudicium, 2000), pp. 247-99.

(29) Cf. also a letter to Hedda Sauer, 28 January 1912: Briefe, 1, 395, and SW, V11, 1247.

(30) SW, V11, 292-303. See also Renee Lang, 'Rilke and his French Contemporaries', Comparative Literature, 10 (1958), 136-43.

(31) Nouvelle Revue Francaise, June 1920, 781-87 (see SW, V11, 1274).

(32) These arguments are usefully summarized by Wais, Studien zu Rilkes Valery-Ubertragungen, pp. 1-2.

(33) Claire Goll, Rilke et les femmes (Paris: Falaize, 1955), p. 24; Monique Saint-Helier, Souvenirs et portraits litteraires (Lausanne: Editions de l'Aire, 1985), p. 38. Cited in Cox, Figures of Transformation, pp. 1-2.

(34) Rainer Maria Rilke, Briefwechsel mit Rolf von Ungern-Sternberg (Frankfurt a.M. and Leipzig: Insel, 2002). This correspondence is the closest approximation we have to a 'credo of translation' on Rilke's part.

(35) SW, V11, 314-733. For a detailed chronology see the notes in SW, V11; also Wais, pp. 23-28.

(36) See Joanna M. Catling, '"Liebe und geschatzte Freundin": Rilkes Briefwechsel mit "E. de W." (=Elizabeth de Waal)', Jahrbuch der deutschen Schillergesellschaft, 41 (1997), 31-76 (p. 56).

(37) Ibid., p. 59, 13 February 1923.

(38) 12 April 1924: Lettres autour d'un jardin, p. 22; also quoted in KA, V, 419. 'L'OEuvre Inconnue' is the title given by Manfred Engel to his introduction to the Kommentar on the French poems: KA, V, 381-429.

(39) 'Mitte Februar 1925' to Marie von Thurn und Taxis from Paris (postscript): Rainer Maria Rilke/Marie von Thurn und Taxis, Briefwechsel, ed. by Ernst Zinn, 2 vols (Zurich: Niehans, 1951; Frankfurt a.M.: Insel, 1986), 11, 824.

(40) See Zinn, SW, 11, 824-26; the arrangement of the French verse in this volume largely follows the tripartite division of the 'uncollected' German verse of the same volume into Vollendetes, Widmungen, and Entwurfe, whereas KA vol. V maintains a chronological approach to the Einzelgedichte; see also KA, V, 592-608.

(41) Letter of 23 January 1923 to Aurelia Gallarati-Scotti, quoted in Joachim W. Storck, '"... sa mosaique multicolore ...": Rilke, Osterreich und die Nachfolgestaaten der Donaumonarchie', in Rilke, Osterreich und die Nachfolgestaaten der Donaumonarchie: Vortrage der Jahrestagung der Rilke-Gesellschaft 1993 in Budapest, ed. by Ferenc Szasz (Budapest: ELTE Germanistisches Institut, 1994), pp. 11-27 (p. 13); cf. Br. Pol., p. 405.

(42) Rainer Maria Rilke, Briefe an Nanny Wunderly-Volkart, ed. by Ratus Luck, 2 vols (Frankfurt a.M.: Insel, 1977), 1, 33; cited henceforth asNWV followed by volume and page reference.

(43) It is worth noting that Muzot, near Sierre (Siders), is situated in the French-speaking part of this bilingual canton, while Raron (Rarogne), where Rilke is buried, lies just over the invisible linguistic boundary in the German-speaking Oberwallis. Fittingly, his well-known German epitaph ('Rose O reiner Widerspruch':SW, 11, 185; Testament, 27.10.1925) has a French Doppelganger in the prose poem 'Cimetiere': 'Veut-elle etre rose-seule, rien-que-rose? Sommeil de personne sous tant de paupieres?' (KA, V, 290; SW, 11, 611). Both poems date from the second half of October 1925.

(44) 22 April 1924: Rainer Maria Rilke, Briefe, pub. by the Rilke-Archivin Weimar in Verbindung mit Ruth Sieber-Rilke, ed. by Karl Altheim (Frankfurt a.M.: Insel, 1980), p. 863. For more on Rilke's reading of contemporary French literature see also Lang, 'Les lectures francaises de Rilke'.

(45) To Axel Juncker, 7 June 1926: Briefe, 11, 442; see also Rilke's ironic use of this term in a letter to Mme Morisse (18 February 1924; quoted in Chronik, p. 901).

(46) This relationship is already amply documented in the secondary literature; see Wais and the various publications on the subject by Renee Lang cited. For details of the rather complex publication history of the correspondence between the two poets, see Wais, pp. 3-9, as well as Lang, Rilke, Gide et Valery. A number of Rilke's letters to Valery, including those cited above, are published in Mesa (Spring 1952), 33-41 ('Quelques lettres de Rilke a Valery et a Du Bos').

(47) SW, 11, 531-32; KA, V, 36-38.

(48) 5 February 1924 to Claire Goll, quoted in Chronik, p. 894. See also 'Ich sehne mich sehr nach Deinen blauen Briefen': Rainer Maria Rilke--Claire Goll. Briefwechsel, ed. by Barbara Glauert-Hesse (Gottingen: Wallstein, 2000), p. 50.

(49) This is explored in more detail in my article 'Nicht-Benennung und Nicht-Ubersetzung: Magie und Zweisprachigkeit bei Rilke', in Halbe Sachen: Wolfenbuttler Ubersetzergesprache IV-VI/Erlanger Ubersetzerwerkstatt I-II, ed. by Olaf Kutzmutz and Adrian LaSalvia (Wolfenbuttel: Bundesakademie, 2006), pp. 154-73.

(50) KA, V, 10. Particularly striking are the metaphors of song or poetry and silence applied to the landscape, e.g. in poems such as the following: 'Printemps' (KA, V, 56-58); 'Le silence uni' (p. 64); 'Pays qui chante en travaillant' (p. 100); 'De quelle attente' (p. 192); 'On a lu les tulipes' (p. 318). See also 'Le Magicien' (p. 204, and n. 49 above).

(51) 18 February 1922 to Nanny Wunderly-Volkart: NWV, 1, 676.

(52) Commerce (Paris), 2, Automne 1924, pp. 165-69: 'La Dormeuse' (SW, 11, 552; KA, v, 74; Vergers, no. 56); 'Eau qui se presse, qui court' (SW, 11, 524; KA, v, 24; Vergers, no. 18); 'Salut! grain aile qui s'envole vers' (SW, 11, 666; KA, v, 254).

(53) La Nouvelle Revue Francaise, 25 (July-December 1925), 5-7, contains five poems under the heading 'Chemins': I: 'Chemins qui nemenent nulle part' (SW, 11, 569; KA, V, 102-04; Quatrains valaisans, no. 31); II: 'Ici la terre est entouree' (SW, 11, 566; KA, V, 96; Quatrains valaisans, no. 23); III: 'Reste tranquille, si soudain' (SW, 11, 517-18; KA, V, 10-12; Vergers, no. 3); IV: 'Vus [sic] des anges, les cimes des arbres peut-etre' (SW, 11, 539; KA, V, 50; Vergers no. 38); V: ' O mes amis, vous tous, je ne renie' (SW, 11, 539-40; KA, V, 52; Vergers no. 39).

(54) Rainer Maria Rilke, Vergers suivi des Quatrains valaisans, avec un portrait de l'auteur par Baladine grave sur bois par G. Aubert (Paris: Editions de la Nouvelle Revue Francaise ('Une oeuvre, un portrait'), 1926).

(55) Quoted in Chronik, p. 1058, and KA, V, 426.

(56) Egon Schwarz, 'Noch einmal Hugo von Hofmannsthal und Rainer Maria Rilke', in Rilke-Rezeptionen/Rilke Reconsidered, ed. by Bauschinger and Cocalis, pp. 15-35 (p. 16).

(57) See Bernhard Boschenstein, 'Rainer Maria Rilkes franzosischeGedichte', in Rilke: Ein europ aischer Dichter aus Prag, ed. by Peter Demetz, Joachim W. Storck, and Hans Dieter Zimmermann (Wurzburg: Konigshausen @ Neumann, 1998), pp. 191-200, especially p. 200. See also Bernhard Boschenstein, 'Les poemes francais: jeux du langage--langage de l'indifference', in Rencontres Rainer Maria Rilke: Internationales Neuenburger Kolloquium 1992, ed. by J urgen Soring and Walter Weber (Neuchatel: Universite de Neuchatel, 1992), pp. 95-112 (on Verger see pp. 102-03). It is in no small measure thanks to Boschenstein's interest, in addition to the publication of the Supplementband to the KA in 2003, that this situation is beginning to change.

(58) One early exception is Liselotte Dieckmann, 'Rainer Maria Rilke's French Poems', Modern Language Quarterly, 12 (1951), 321-36. For self-evident reasons the vast majority of critical literature on these poems is in French. A notable exception--albeit originally written in French--is Gerard Bucher, 'Rilke's Poetry in the French Language: The Enigma of Mythopoietic Reversal', in A Companion to the Works of Rainer Maria Rilke, ed. by Erika A. Metzger and Michael M. Metzger (Rochester, NY: Camden House, 2001), pp. 236-63 (article translated into English by Michael Metzger).

(59) 9 June 1926 to Katharina Kippenberg (see above, n. 1).

(60) 5 February 1924 to Claire Goll: Chronik, p. 894 (see also n. 48).

(61) 9 February 1926: Briefe, 11, 408.

(62) Briefe, 11, 236: 'wahrend des Dichters Aufgabe sich steigert um die seltsame Verpflichtung, sein Wort von den Worten des blossen Umgangs und der Verstandigung gr undlich, wesentlich zu unterscheiden'.

(63) Rilke's Italian Versuche may be found at SW, 11, 749, and his early experiments in Russian at SW, 1V, 947-71.

(64) I should like to express my thanks to Dr Carol O'Sullivan (Portsmouth) for her assistance with Rilke's somewhat unconventional Italian.

(65) 27 November 1920: NWV, 1, 346-47 (emphasis original). This 'erste Arbeit' is the 'Preface a Mitsou' written to accompany the drawings by the then eleven-year-old Balthusz Klossowski, telling the story of his lost cat ('Mitsou', or in some letters 'Mizu'): Mitsou. Quarante images par Balthusz. Preface (SW, V1, 1099-1103).

(66) 7 June 1926 to Axel Juncker: Briefe. 11, 442. As noted above, this 'new beginning' coincides almost exactly with Rilke's return to Muzot from his first stay in the sanatorium at Val-Mont in the winter of 1923/4.

(67) Cf the notion of mirrors as 'Zwischenraume der Zeit' in the Sonette an Orpheus (ii. 3: SW, 1, 752).

(68) There are also strong reminiscences of the well-known letter to Witold Hulewicz of 13 November 1925: '[...] gerade, um [d]er Vorlaufigkeit willen, [...] sollen diese Erscheinungen und Dinge von uns in einem innigsten Verstande begriffen und verwandelt werden. Verwandelt? Ja, denn unsere Aufgabe ist es, diese vorlaufige, hinfallige Erde uns so tief, so leidend und leidenschaftlich einzupragen, dass ihr Wesen in uns "unsichtbar" wieder aufersteht.Wir sind die Bienen des Unsichtbaren. Nou butinons eperdument le miel du visible, pour l'accumuler dans la grande ruche d'or de l'Invisible' (Briefe, 11, 376).

(69) In the poem Palme (see SW, V11, 406). Rilke's translation of these lines reads: 'Was wir dem Schweigen verschulden macht uns das Reifen genau!' (SW, V11, 407).

(70) 18 November 1920 to Baladine Klossowska: 'Le role principal incombe a la fontaine qui d'un geste presque statuaire se dresse au milieu de son etang sans bordure. C'est elle qui me cause jour et nuit,meme a travers les fenetres fermees on devine son bruit vital qui limite le silence [...] cette fontaine perseverante [...] s'impose a moi comme une vision des metamorphoses--' (Merline, p. 94).

(71) Paul Valery, 'Erinnerungen an Rilke', compiled and translated by Max Rychner, in Insel-Almanach auf das Jahr 1997: Rainer Maria Rilke 1926 bis 1996. Erinnerungen an den Dichter. Begegnungen mit dem Werk. EineDokumentation, compiled by Vera Hauschild (Frankfurt a.M. and Leipzig: Insel, 1997), pp. 90-93 (p. 91). Cf. also his obituary article on Rilke published inGerman translation by Franz Leppmann in Der Querschnitt, 7.2 (February 1927), 81-82, 'Gedenken und Abschied' (reproduced in Panthel, Materialien, p. 170): 'Diese[r] grosse[] Poet[], eine[r] der im edelsten Sinne ruhmreichsten Dichter der germanischen Welt, [...] stand der franzosischen Kultur so nahe, dass ich ihn leicht verlocken konnte, Gedichte in unserer Sprache zu schreiben und zu veroffentlichen.'


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Title Annotation:Rainer Maria Rilke
Author:Catling, Jo
Publication:The Modern Language Review
Date:Oct 1, 2007
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