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An evening with Rilke

I want to be with those who know secret things or else alone." - RMR

Join other members of the Boston Poetry Union meetup group as we read Rilke aloud and talk about the themes and pleasures of his poetry.

The evening will begin with a quick explication of one of Rilke's short poems by one of the organizers; after that, we'll break into open conversation, where members can read their favorite poems aloud (in English or German), or give their own explications, or just talk casually with other lovers of Rilke.

No prior experience with Rilke is necessary; reading packets will be available for free to all who attend.

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  • Larry B.

    Another topic that came up in the after-discussion is the literary genre of re-telling ancient myths and legends. Ms. Leguin has written a work in this genre, a 2008, award-winning novel titled "Lavinia." It is a prose re-telling of the last six books of the Aeneid, with some editing and the addition of imagined details not in the original.

    July 12, 2013

    • Zachary B.

      I think too of Zachary Mason's "The Lost Books of the Odyssey", and or C. S. Lewis' retelling of the Cupid-Psyche myth, http://en.wikipedia.o...­. And, proximal since she just read earlier this year at Harvard, Anne Carson's "Autobiography of Red".

      July 15, 2013

  • Larry B.

    Thanks to everyone I met for the enjoyable discussion about Rilke. Ursula K. Leguin's name came up in the after-discussion, so I'd like to include an observation by her about Rilke's poem, "Archaic Torso of Apollo": True myth may serve for thousands of years as an inexhaustible source of intellectual speculation, religious joy, ethical inquiry and artistic renewal. The real myth is not destroyed by reason. The fake one is. You look at it and it vanishes. You look at the Blond Hero - really look - and he turns into a gerbil. But you look at Apollo, and he looks back at you.

    The poet Rilke looked at a statue of Apollo about fifty years ago, and Apollo spoke to him. 'You must change your life,' he said.

    When the genuine myth rises into consciousness, that is always its message. You must change your life.

    (from "Myth and Archetype in Science Fiction", 1976; reprinted in The Language of the Night, 1989)

    July 12, 2013

  • Julie

    Oh.. I'm so sad I couldn't get there by 6, or even close. Framingham too far if I work late!

    July 11, 2013

  • Larry B.

    Zachary, if I may, I'd like to call dibs on "Archaic Torso of Apollo." Although I find some of Rilke's similes in this poem to be rather 'forced'. or outrageous (unerhortes) if you will, they build up to the final sentence of the poem, the plainest of statements, and yet a statement that, to me, ranks as one of the highest poetic achievements of the 20th century: Du muBt dein leben andern = You must change your life. Or as a different translator puts it: You have to live another life.

    June 28, 2013

    • Larry B.

      Art Beck has written an excellent essay about translating "Archaic Torso of Apollo." I read a printed re-print of this essay several years ago, and now I have managed to find it online (it's long, but worth the read): http://jacketmagazine...­

      July 1, 2013

    • Larry B.

      Here is a link to another interesting online commentary on "Archaic Torso of Apollo," this time by Mark Doty. (I'm posting these links here so I don't have to bring copies for everyone, and to let anyone interested read it in advance of the meetup).­

      July 5, 2013

  • Alan P.

    I read Rilke more than any other poet. Happy to hear what others love and will bring Sonnets, Duino Elegies and, hopefully, Book of Hours.

    June 29, 2013

  • Larry B.

    While I'm digging through stored-away stuff to find what I have on Rilke, I thought I'd do an online search on "translating Rilke." Rilke is apparently notorious for being difficult to translate, especially his later poetry. For those who may be interested in the problems of translation, I found some online info about translating Rilke. Here are some of the urls, which may serve to whet our Rilke appetites (these are just from the first screen of the online search):

    June 27, 2013

  • Larry B.

    I have a German-English dictionary, but I don't know German. I'm interested in poetry translation from the standpoint of making a translated poem sound good in the target language (in this case English) without sacrificing too much of how a poem 'means' in the poem's original language. It will be interesting to compare different English translations of the same Rilke poem, if the opportunity presents itself.

    June 26, 2013

    • Larry B.

      Just as some translations are better than others, some dictionaries too are better than others. I'll let you know which poems as soon as I dig through some stored-away Rilke material.

      June 26, 2013

    • Robert M.

      All: I have Rilke's Book of Images, Sonnets to Orpheus, and Uncollected Poems in dual-language editions, translated by Edward Snow, if that will be of any help.

      1 · June 26, 2013

  • Tracy M.

    I'm actually taking a poetry writing course Thursday nights in the summer but am considering meeting this one session since I love Rilke!

    1 · June 26, 2013

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