Featured Reviews, VOLUME 6

Rainer Maria Rilke – Prayers of a Young Poet [Featured Review]

[easyazon-image align=”left” asin=”1612610765″ locale=”us” height=”333″ src=”http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51kyQjGM13L.jpg” width=”222″ alt=”Rainer Maria Rilke” ]“I believe in everything that has not yet been said”

A Featured Review of

Prayers of a Young Poet

Rainer Maria Rilke.

Translated and with an introduction by Mark S. Burrows
Hardback: Paraclete Press, 2012.
Buy now:  [ [easyazon-link asin=”1612610765″ locale=”us”]Amazon[/easyazon-link] ]  [ [easyazon-link asin=”B009XIKUMS” locale=”us”]Kindle[/easyazon-link] ]

Review by Caitlin Michelle Desjardins


The hour bows down and stirs me

With a clear and ringing stroke;

My senses tremble. I feel that I can—

And I seize the forming day.


Between September 20 and October 14, 1899, Rainer Maria Rilke feverishly composed a cycle of prayers, in the form of poems written by an anonymous Russian Orthodox monk, that we now know as the first part of his famous Book of Hours. Yet the Book of Hours as we have it now, with Rilke’s own revisions, doesn’t include Rilke’s own original annotations that give the date of composition and short epigraphs that suggest something of the poems’ originations. These epigraphs, written from the perspective of the Monk, often suggest insights and signify the thrust of the poem itself. Rilke’s poetry is, in many ways, an exercise in openness and doesn’t always lend any clear “meaning” so much as give a sense of divinity, humanity and the wideness of life. These epigraphs, restored in this new edition of Rilke’s prayers (originally titles simple “die Gebete” or “the Prayers), don’t undermine the expanse of Rilke’s poetry or offer any kind of didactic “meaning”, yet they do helpfully turn our head a bit, and offer new insights into the poems themselves and Rilke’s spirit and imagination as he write them.


Prayers of a Young Poet, by Rainer Maria Rilke, translated and with an introduction and closing essay by Mark S. Burrows, is a beautiful new collection from Paraclete worthy of procurement by any fan of Rilke’s, or anyone seeking a spacious spirituality that “loves the questions”. Written a few years before his famous letters to the young poet, Franz Kappus, that have garnered Rilke particular fame, the title of Burrow’s translations would perhaps most properly be “Prayers of an older Russian Orthodox monk” (however awkward), as Rilke very intentionally placed these prayers and poems in that voice, not his own (though one is swept again and again through themes, language and striking images that are wholly Rilke). Rilke wrote them upon returning from a stay in Russia, with friends—including the lady who he first presented these poems to as a gift and perhaps was quite enthralled, and even involved, with—that clearly affected him deeply.


*** [easyazon-link keywords=”Rainer Maria Rilke” locale=”us”]Other Books by Rainer Maria Rilke[/easyazon-link]

My paths lead to the east—“ Rilke writes in poem 49, and indeed the poems are an exploration of the stirring spirituality he found in the east. The fact that he chose the put these prayers in the mouth of a seasoned Orthodox monk allows for a certain retrospection, and exploration Rilke pulls off vividly, of what it would mean to give ones whole life to that eastern spirituality he had encountered. How might one reflect on a life such lived?


CLICK HERE to continue reading on Page 2



Enter your email below to sign up for our weekly digest & choose a free ebook
from the four pictured ------> 


Comments are closed.