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Rilke, “The First Elegy”; Tranströmer, “Romanesque Arches”

Perhaps this is a commonplace but the first Duino Elegy reminds me irresistibly of Tomas Tranströmer’s “Romanesque Arches”.

You can find Robin Fulton’s translation of “Romanesque Arches” at http://www.ellenlindquist.com/ellen/?p=520 . Countless sites give the first Duino elegy as a whole, among them http://homestar.org/bryannan/duino.html (using Stephen Mitchell’s translation).

The most obvious link is the embrace by the angel. Behind that there‘s the contrast between the human and angelic orders of being, and the sense of the human condition as inherently one of incompleteness.

But the two poems work in vastly different ways. Rilke’s eloquence is splendid and overwhelming. Line after line chants … Continue Reading

Rilke, The Panther; Ted Hughes, The Jaguar

Reading Rilke’s “The Panther” in Stephen Mitchell’s translation it struck me that Ted Hughes’s “The Jaguar” may well have been written as an answer to it, the two poems seem to oppose each other so directly. I wish I’d thought of this when I was teaching Hughes or using his poetry as a springboard for boys’ own writing.

You can find a compendium of translations of Rilke’s poem at http://www.thebeckoning.com/poetry/rilke/rilke3.html .The Mitchell version is one of the last.

I won’t give a link to the Hughes – there’s something depressing about the sheer number of online explanations of “The Jaguar”, especially … Continue Reading