Translator's notes

God in the Middle Ages

By Rainer Maria Rilke

These sonnets from Rilke’s ‘middle period’, when he was profoundly influenced by the sculptor Rodin, anticipate many of the concepts of the Duino Elegies and the Sonnets to Orpheus

I was drawn back to them by a recent visit to Chartres Cathedral – one source of their inspiration. Whilst my main aim has been to realise the powerful imagery, I have tried to respect their formal elegance, though presenting the text in a layout that gives priority to the phrasing of the lines rather than their metrical format. 

Ernest M. Wolf’s monograph Stone into Poetry, Bonn, 1978, has been very helpful in the interpretation.

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