Saundra Rose Maley

Rainer Maria Rilke

Saundra Rose Maley Translates Rainer Maria Rilke

Poetry in Translation Issue
Volume 16:3, Summer 2015

Sonnet to Orpheus I, IX

Only one who has lifted a lyre
In shadows
May know unending praise.

Only one who has tasted
The poppy of death
Will hear the slightest sound.

Though the reflection in the pool
May blur, we must
Know the image—

Voices become low
And endless
Only in the other world.


Sonett an Orpheus: I, IX

Nur wer die Leier schon hob
auch unter Schatten,
darf das unendliche Lob
ahnend erstatten.

Nur wer mit Toten vom Mohn
aß, von dem ihren,
wird nicht den leisesten Ton
wieder verlieren.

Mag auch die Spieglung im Teich
oft uns verschwimmen:
Wisse das Bild.

Erst in dem Doppelbereich
werden die Stimmen
ewig und mild.


Saundra Rose Maley is co-editor of A Wild Perfection: The Selected Letters of James Wright and of Solitary Apprenticeship: James Wright and German Poetry. She is currently working with Anne Wright on a book about James Wright's translations, Where the Treasure Lies. She teaches at Montgomery College in Takoma Park, Maryland. Her first book of poems, Disappearing Act, was published by Dryad Press in January 2015. Read more by this author: Saundra Rose Maley: Fall 2000 Maley's Introduction to The Whitman Issue, Winter 2004 Saundra Rose Maley: Museum Issue

Rainer Maria Rilke (1875-1926) is considered by many to be the greatest lyric poet of modern Germany. He may also be the best-known German-language poet in the United States today and certainly one of the most translated. His Sonnets to Orpheus (1922), Duino Elegies (1922), and Letters to a Young Poet (1929) are classics.