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RilkeThe Life of the Work$
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Charlie Louth

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780198813231

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198813231.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 19 January 2022

Die Sonette an Orpheus

Die Sonette an Orpheus

(p.455) 10 Die Sonette an Orpheus

Charlie Louth

Oxford University Press

The slightly critical treatment of the Duineser Elegien makes way for a reading of the Sonette an Orpheus as Rilke’s major work, though the intention is not simply to depose one in favour of the other. Rather it is to suggest how each enabled the other. This chapter examines the circumstances of the Sonette’s composition and its relationship to the genesis of the Elegien, and then goes on to read the Sonette as a tombeau or ‘tomb-poem’, with reference to Rilke’s translation of Mallarmé’s tombeau for Verlaine. The question the poems address is how to make a memorial for someone whose form of expression, dance, leaves no traces. Rilke’s return to the sonnet is also looked at in the light of the attempt to write a memorial. As against the Neue Gedichte, it is now the fluid living body, dance, that provides a model for poetry, rather than sculpture.

Keywords:   memorial, dance, sonnet, tombeau, movement, the senses

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