Rainer Maria Rilke

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Rilke, around 1900
Dedication with signature, 1896

Rainer Maria Rilke (born December 4, 1875 in Prague , Austria-Hungary , † December 29, 1926 in the Valmont Sanatorium near Montreux , Switzerland ; actually: René Karl Wilhelm Johann Josef Maria Rilke ) was an Austrian poet in German and French. With his dingy , which was perfected in the New Poems and influenced by the visual arts , he is considered one of the most important poets of literary modernism .

A number of stories , a novel and essays on art and culture as well as numerous translations of literature and poetry are known from Rilke's work . His extensive correspondence is an important part of his literary work.


Childhood (1875-1885)

Rainer Maria Rilke, around 1877/78
Clara Rilke-Westhoff (painting by Paula Modersohn-Becker , 1905)

Rilke was born as René Karl Wilhelm Johann Josef Maria Rilke on December 4, 1875 in Prague , which at that time, like all of Bohemia , belonged to Austria-Hungary . The citizens of Bohemia had old Austrian citizenship. He was the second child of Josef Rilke (1839–1906) and Sophie ("Phia") Rilke , born in Entz (1851–1931). On his father's side, the family came from Türmitz in northern Bohemia , while his mother came from a wealthy Prague industrialist family.

Rilke's childhood in Prague is not considered happy. While the father Josef did not succeed in the desired military career and he then became a railway official, the mother Sophie saw her hopes for a noble life in marriage not fulfilled. Nor did she cope with the early death of her older daughter, who had died prematurely a year after the marriage (May 1873) after a week in 1874. Out of emotional helplessness, she tied her only son René - French for "born again" - to her and pushed him into the role of the deceased sister. Up to the age of six Rilke found himself brought up as a girl, early photographs show him with long hair, in a little dress. The relationship between mother and son was overshadowed by this.

When he was six, Rilke attended a Piarist- run Catholic elementary school in the most elegant district of Prague. Although rather sickly, his performance over the four years of school was good. In 1884, the parents' marriage broke up and from then on lived apart without divorce. For a short time René was raised by his mother alone before his parents sent him to the St. Pölten cadet institution .

Education (1885-1896)

From 1885 onwards, the boy, who was gifted with poetry and drawing, attended the military secondary school in St. Pölten in Lower Austria , especially at the request of his father, to prepare for an officer career. The unreasonable demands of military drills and the experience of an all-male society traumatized the tender boy. After six years he broke off his military training due to illness. This was followed by a visit to the Linz Commercial Academy , Upper Austria .

In May 1892 he had to leave Linz involuntarily because of an unacceptable love affair with a nanny several years older than him. After the military one, an economic career had become hopeless. Back in Prague, Rilke was able to prepare for the Matura in private lessons from 1892 to 1895 , which he passed in 1895. In the same year he began to study literature , art history and philosophy at the Charles University in his native city . In the following year he switched to law and continued his studies from September 1896 at the Ludwig Maximilians University in Munich .

1897–1902: years of development

Rilke visited Venice for the first time in March 1897 . On May 12, 1897, he met the well-traveled intellectual and writer Lou Andreas-Salomé in Munich and fell in love with her. He also changed his first name from René to Rainer , because Andreas-Salomé found the name more appropriate for a male writer. The following intense relationship with the elderly and married woman lasted until 1900. Even after the separation, Lou Andreas-Salomé proved to be his most important friend and advisor until the end of Rilke's life. Her psychoanalytic knowledge and experience, which she had acquired from Sigmund Freud in 1912/1913 , will have played a significant role in this. Freud reports "that she was both muse and caring mother to the great poet Rainer Maria Rilke, who was quite helpless in life" (Sigmund Freud's memorial words on the death of Lou Andreas-Salomé, 1937).

Rilke followed Lou Andreas-Salomé to Berlin in the fall of 1897 and moved into an apartment in their immediate vicinity. In Berlin, he met the siblings Mathilde and Karl Gustav Vollmoeller during a reading by Stefan Georges in the house of the artist couple Sabine and Reinhold Lepsius . In 1898 he went to Italy for several weeks. Rilke made friends with Heinrich Vogeler during his stay in Florence in 1898 and now came to Worpswede as Vogeler's guest .

In the following two years he visited Russia twice: in 1899 he traveled to Moscow with the Andreas couple , where he met Lev Tolstoy . From May to August 1900 a second trip to Russia followed with Lou Andreas-Salomé alone, to Moscow and Saint Petersburg , but also across the country and upstream the Volga. On this trip, they met Boris Pasternak by chance , who describes this encounter in the autobiographical story Der Schutzbrief .

Barkenhoff in Worpswede . Above the gate a Rilke poem: "Light is his lot / is the Lord only the heart and hand of the builder, / with the linden trees in the country / his house will also be shady and large"

In the autumn of 1900, immediately after Andreas-Salomé had made the decision to part with him, Rilke paid a longer visit to Heinrich Vogeler in Worpswede . Vogeler organized Sunday meetings in the White Hall of his Barkenhoff , at which the visual artists Otto Modersohn and his wife Paula Modersohn-Becker , the writer Carl Hauptmann and the sculptor Clara Westhoff frequented. Westhoff and Rilke married the following spring.

In December 1901 their daughter Ruth (1901–1972) was born. In the summer of 1902, Rilke gave up the apartment they shared and traveled to Paris to write a monograph on the sculptor Auguste Rodin . The relationship between Rilke and Clara Westhoff lasted throughout his life, but he was not the person for a bourgeois and local family life. At the same time, he was depressed by financial worries that could only be alleviated with difficulty through commissioned work.

1902–1910: The middle creative period

Portrait of Rainer Maria Rilke by Paula Modersohn-Becker , 1906 ( Ludwig Roselius Collection )

The first time in Paris was difficult for Rilke, as the foreign city held many horrors for him. He later shaped these experiences in the first part of his only novel, The Notes of Malte Laurids Brigge . At the same time, however, the encounter with modernism brought numerous stimuli: Rilke first dealt intensively with the sculptures of Auguste Rodin , then with the work of the painter Paul Cézanne . During these years, Paris increasingly became the main residence of the poet. From 1905 to 1906 he was employed for eight months as a secretary by Rodin, who was at the same time an idealized father figure to him. Rodin's employment ended abruptly in May 1906. Rilke's father had died shortly before. In the same year Rilke met Sidonie Nádherná from Borutín , with whom he had an erotically disinterested but not unclouded literary friendship and an extensive correspondence until his death: it was after Sidonie Nádherná met the writer Karl Kraus in Vienna in 1913 Rilke, who warned her about Kraus. He later regretted this interference in a complicated love affair.

Rilke spent the summer of 1903 in Florence, the winter of 1903/1904 in Rome, where he lived in the Villa Strohl-Fern and where he also wrote letters to a young poet . The painter Otto Sohn-Rethel , a friend of the painters of the Worpswede artists' colony , had given him his “Studio al Ponte”. At the same time, Rilke's wife Clara Westhoff had her own studio within sight on the premises.

From 1906, Rilke's contact with Mathilde and Karl Gustav Vollmoeller intensified . At first he used Mathilde's Paris studio several times in his absence. At the same time, on the occasion of his trip to Italy in 1907, Rilke tried to visit Vollmoeller in his villa in Sorrento . It was not until Easter 1908 that Rilke and Vollmoeller met again in Florence. Rilke stayed here for several days in Vollmoeller's Florentine domicile, the Renaissance villa Gilli-Pozzino. The writer Felix Salten and the Lepsius couple were also present . In the following years, Rilke and Vollmoeller met several times in Paris. The most important poetic earnings of the Parisian period were the New Poems (1907), The New Poems of the Other Part (1908), the two Requiem poems (1909) and the novel Die Aufzüge des Malte Laurids Brigge, begun in 1904 and completed in January 1910 .

For the Leipziger Insel Verlag , whose management Anton Kippenberg had taken over in 1905, Rilke became the most important contemporary author. Until 1913, Kippenberg acquired the rights to all works by Rilke for the publishing house.

1910–1919: Internal and external upheavals

Duino Castle

After he had completed The Notes of Malte Laurids Brigge in Leipzig in 1910, a deep creative crisis began for Rilke that lasted twelve years. He dealt with translations of literary works from French, including Der Kentauer by Maurice de Guérin . In search of new inspiration, he dealt with classical writers, for the first time more intensively with the work of Goethe and Shakespeare . In 1912 he began the Duinese elegies , which he was not able to complete until February 1922. This cycle of poems owes its name to Rilke's stay at Duino Castle of Princess Marie von Thurn und Taxis near Trieste from October 1911 to May 1912.

1912 a new edition of the lyrical story appeared The Love and Death of Cornet Christopher Rilke as the No. 1 island-library , with the should get the work long runs and unusual popularity after it first in 1906 first of Rilke's publisher, Axel Juncker , right had been unsuccessfully published as a collector's edition.

Rilketurm at Gut Böckel

The outbreak of the First World War surprised Rilke during a stay in Germany. He could no longer return to Paris; his property left there was confiscated and auctioned. Rilke spent most of the war in Munich. He lived at Ainmillerstraße 34 in the Schwabing district . From 1914 to 1916 he had a stormy affair with the painter Lou Albert-Lasard . The friendship between Rilke and Vollmoeller intensified during the First World War, when both met in Berlin and Munich in the presence of Lou Albert-Lasard. Rilke used Vollmoeller's relationship with the German General Staff to use him in the search for a missing cousin. As the unpublished correspondence (German Literature Archive, Marbach) shows, Vollmoeller was successful and was able to provide Rilke and his family with the desired information.

At the beginning of 1916 Rilke was drafted and had to complete basic military training in Vienna, where he was stationed in the Breitenseer barracks in the west of the city. At the intercession of influential friends, he was transferred to work in the war archives and the kuk war press quarters and released from military service on June 9, 1916. During his stay in Vienna, he lived in Viktorgasse 5 and Gußhausstrasse 9, both addresses in the 4th district not far from the city ​​center and Belvedere Palace . The time after that, in which he also experienced the revolutionary movements there - partly together with Oskar Maria Graf - he spent again in Munich, interrupted by a stay at Hertha Koenig's Gut Böckel in Westphalia. The traumatic experience of military service, felt as a repetition of the horrors experienced in military school, almost completely silenced Rilke as a poet for a while.

1919–1926: The late work

Rainer Maria Rilke after a drawing by Emil Orlik (1917)

On June 11, 1919, Rilke traveled from Munich to Switzerland. The external reason was an invitation to a lecture from Zurich, but the real reason was the desire to escape the confusion after the war and to resume work on the Duinese elegies that had been interrupted for so long . In Zurich he met Nanny Wunderly- Volkart (1878–1962), a generous patron who not only supported him financially from 1919 until his death and provided Rilke with pleasant places to stay with the service he requested. Their intimate and trusting relationship is reflected in a lively exchange of letters, some of which were published in 1977. At Rilke's request, she also supported his lover, the destitute divorced mother of two, Baladine Klossowska .

Finding a suitable and affordable place to live turned out to be very difficult. Rilke lived in Soglio , Locarno and Berg am Irchel , among others . It was not until the summer of 1921 that he found permanent residence in the Château de Muzot , a small castle above Sierre in the canton of Valais . In 1920 Rilke signed a contract with the publisher Emil Roniger for the picture book Mitsou published in 1921 . Quarante images par Balthus, with a foreword by Rilke. In May 1922, Nanny Wunderly's cousin, the patron Werner Reinhart (1884–1951), acquired the château and left it rent-free to the poet.

In an intensive creative period, Rilke completed the Duinese elegies here within a few weeks in February 1922 . The two parts of the cycle of poems ' Sonnets to Orpheus ' were written in the immediate vicinity . Both seals are among the highlights of Rilke's work.

Since 1923, Rilke had to struggle with severe health problems that made several long stays in a sanatorium necessary. The stay in Paris from January to August 1925 was also an attempt to escape the disease by changing location and changing living conditions. Nevertheless, in the last few years between 1923 and 1926, numerous individual poems (such as the gong and mausoleum ) and an extensive exophonic lyric work in French were created .

In January and February 1926, Rilke wrote three letters to Mussolini's opponent Aurelia Gallarati Scotti to Milan, in which he praised the rule of Benito Mussolini and extolled fascism as a cure. Rilke was not in the dark about the role of violence . He was ready to accept some temporary violence and deprivation of liberty . It is important to take action, even over injustices. He saw Italy as the only country that was doing well and was on the rise. Mussolini has become the architect of the Italian will, the forge of a new consciousness whose flame is kindled on an old fire. "Happy Italy!" Exclaimed Rilke while sharply rejecting the ideas of freedom, humanity and the international. They are nothing but abstractions on which Europe almost collapsed.

Rilke's grave in the cemetery in Raron

It was only shortly before Rilke's death that his disease was diagnosed as leukemia , in a form that was still little known at the time. The poet died on December 29, 1926 in the Valmont sur Territet sanatorium near Montreux and was buried on January 2, 1927 - according to his wishes - near his last place of residence in the mountain cemetery of Raron (Switzerland). On his tombstone is the saying written by Rilke himself and chosen for the tombstone:

Rose, oh pure contradiction, lust, to be
nobody's sleep under so many

The poetic work

Influenced by the philosophers Schopenhauer and above all Nietzsche , whose writings he got to know early on, Rilke's work is characterized by a sharp criticism of Christianity's afterlife and a one-sided scientific and rational interpretation of the world. His short trip to the Orient, which took him to Tunisia, Egypt and Spain in 1911, brought him into contact with the world of Islam, from which understandable influences in worldview and work were evident earlier. Rilke felt very drawn to the Arabic language. For him, Islam is the religion of “undisguised space”, the pure feeling of creatures: the earth can be experienced as “pure stars”. The creature of the earth can appear so pure and undisguised.

Rilke's early works include the poetry books Wegwarten , Traumgekrönt and Advent . With the volume Mir zur Celebration (1897/1898) he systematically turns to a consideration of the human inner world for the first time. The unpublished collection of poems Dir for celebration (created in 1897/1898) is a single declaration of love to the revered Lou Andreas-Salomé . In 1899 the short prose work Die Weise von Liebe und Tod by Cornet Christoph Rilke was created .

The Book of Hours (three parts, created 1899–1903, first printed in 1905), named after traditional prayer books of the Middle Ages, is the first highlight of the early work and is the expression of a pantheistic image of God. With its artfully intertwined rhyming bands and its flowing rhythm, this cycle of poems is one of the main works of literary Art Nouveau . This creative period also includes thecollection of poems Das Buch der Bilder , published in 1902 and expanded to include numerous poems in 1906, in the Impressionist style.

Nietzsche's philosophy - also conveyed by their intimate friend Lou Andreas-Salomé - gained considerable influence on Rilke in the years around the turn of the century. The recognition of reality without consolation from the hereafter or social development romanticism also shaped Rilke's understanding of the world. Intensive observations of nature as well as human behavior and emotional life stand for this. All of this formed Rilke's “inner space”, in which the outside and inside world connect.

From the works of the middle phase between 1902 and 1910, the New Poems and the novel Die Aufzüge des Malte Laurids Brigge stand out. In these works Rilke turns to the world of basic human experiences; but now no longer by observing the inner life, but in a symbolic reflection of this inner life in the things experienced, pushing back the subject. This is how his “ thing poems ” emerge , including the blue hydrangea , the panther or the archaic torso of Apollo , which further develop literary symbolism . This understanding of the world expressly includes the painful and alien aspects of life: ugliness, illness, drive and death.

In his late work (1912–1922), Rilke gave his life-affirmation in the cycles Duineser Elegies and The Sonnets to Orpheus a poetic shape and referred to the whole existence encompassing life and death. The poems of the last few years fall into different groups: on the one hand cheerful and relaxed, often laconic pointed poems of nature and landscape, on the other hand poetically bold experiments that are worked out purely from language.



In the essay Ur-Gerärm from 1919, Rilke compares the crown seam of the human skull with “the tightly wound line that the pen of a phonograph digs into the receiving rotating cylinder of the apparatus.” Rilke's works have often been set to music or edited. The following overview, in chronological order, lists the most important works of serious music:

  • Alma Mahler : It's daring with you. 1900–1901, (from Five Songs, no. 4.)
  • Alban Berg : love. 1904, Traumgekrönt (from: Seven Early Songs ) 1907/1928
  • Anton Webern : Two songs based on poems by Rainer Maria Rilke, op. 8 (1910) (1. You who don't tell me. 2. You make me alone. )
  • Arnold Schönberg : Everyone who is looking for you, make me the guardian of your vastness and anticipation . op. 22, No. 2, 3 and 4, 1914.
  • Paul von Klenau : The way of love and death of the cornet Christoph Rilke. For baritone, mixed choir and orchestra, 1915.
  • Hanns Eisler : If only it were really quiet for once. ( Book of hours ). For alto, violin, viola, violoncello. Wiesbaden 1918.
  • Franz Schreker : And how does love like. 1919.
  • Ferruccio Busoni : Of Monastic Life. Chants from Rainer Maria Rilke's book of hours for baritone solo, mixed choir, orchestra and organ. op. 44, 1919.
  • Clemens Krauss : Eight chants based on poems by Rainer Maria Rilke for a high female voice and piano. 1920.
  • Julius Weismann : I only woke up like this as a child. op. 82,1, 1921.
  • Kurt Weill : Book of hours, song cycle for baritone and orchestra op.13.1923 .
  • Willy Burkhard : Rilke song cycle I and II. Op. 20,1–2 Five chants each for bass and soprano. 1927.
  • Ernst Toch : The evening. op. 41,1, 1928.
  • Paul Hindemith : Six Chansons. 6 poems for choir a cappella based on French poems by RM Rilke. 1939.
  • Zoltán Gárdonyi : Five songs for soprano and piano based on poems by RM Rilke. 1941/1942, revised 1978, Edition Walhall Magdeburg.
  • Frank Martin : The way of love and death of the cornet Christoph Rilke. For alto and chamber orchestra, 1942.
  • Karl Marx : That is longing. op. 45,1, 1943.
  • Viktor Ullmann : The way of love and death of the cornet Christoph Rilke. For speaker and orchestra or piano, 1944.
  • Josef Schelb : Three songs based on poems by Rainer Maria Rilke. For high voice and piano, 1946.
  • Paul Hindemith : The Life of Mary . Song cycle for voice and piano. 1922, revised 1948.
  • Gerhard Frommel : 3 songs. (Rainer Maria Rilke, Stefan George , Otto Frommel ). For low voice and piano. Manuscript, 1953.
  • Einojuhani Rautavaara : The lovers. Song cycle for high voice and string orchestra. [ Liebes-Lied ( New Poems ), The Seeing One , ( Book of Pictures ), The Lovers , The Death of Beloved ( New Poems) ]. 1958/1959.
  • Leonard Bernstein : Two Love Songs (When my soul toches you ..., Extinquish my eyes ...). Boosey & Hawkes, New York, 1949. [ Put My Eyes Out ( Book of Hours )]
  • Petr Eben : Six songs based on Rainer Maria Rilke. Song cycle for voice and piano, 1961.
  • Dmitri Schostakowitsch : 14th Symphony , op. 135, 1969. [Contains The Death of the Poet , final piece ]
  • Michael Denhoff : O Orpheus sings - five lyrical pieces for octet. op. 15, 1977, based on motifs from the sonnets to Orpheus .
  • Bertold Hummel : Autumn Day for Voice and Piano. 1980.
  • Morten Lauridsen : Les Chansons des Roses. For mixed choir, 1993.
  • Einojuhani Rautavaara : The First Elegy. For mixed choir, 1993.
  • Klaus Miehling : Five songs based on Rainer Maria Rilke. For medium voice and piano, op.67, 1996.
  • Harrison Birtwistle : 26 Orpheus Elegies. For oboe, harp and countertenor. 2003-2004.
  • Helmut Schmidinger : “What touches us, you and me.” Seven ratios for violin and piano based on verses by Rainer Maria Rilke. Vienna 2004.
  • Krzysztof Penderecki : Songs of Transience. For solos, mixed choir and orchestra. Based on poems by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Achim von Arnim, Joseph von Eichendorff, Karl Kraus, Rainer Maria Rilke [ End of Autumn ( Book of Pictures ), Autumn Day ( Book of Pictures )] and Hermann Hesse. Schott, Mainz / London a. a. 2005.
  • François Cotinaud : Transformation. Mirror painting. L'Orphée de Rilke. Ensemble luxury. After sonnets to Orpheus . With Pascale Labbé (voice), François Cotinaud (clarinet, saxophone), and Jérôme Lefebvre (guitar). Label Musivi (Musea), 2015.
  • Gérard Zinsstag : Rilke songs for mezzo-soprano, flute, clarinet, piano, violin, viola and violoncello (2015).

Beyond the narrow realm of serious music , the English artist Anne Clark dealt musically with Rilke's work on her album Just After Sunset in 1998 . Udo Lindenberg set the Rilke poem Der Panther to music in 2000 .

The musical approach to Rilke's lyrical work through the Rilke Project , which was started in 2001, has become particularly popular . Well-known contemporary actors and musicians have interpreted texts by Rilke in four CD releases so far.

Rilke today

For some years now, Rilke's work has also spread outside of literary circles. A material reason for this greater attention is the fact that his work was no longer bound by copyright to Insel-Verlag in 1996, 70 years after Rilke's death. In addition to musical settings of his poems ("Rilke Project"), a full-length magic theater performance was developed under the name "Rilke Magic", in which the artist Ulrich Rausch combined Rilke's poems with magic tricks for the first time .


Poem in suffering

Part of Rilke's literary estate is in the German Literature Archive in Marbach . In the Marbach Museum of Modern Literature , manuscripts from the estate can be seen in the permanent exhibition, for example from the Book of Hours and from The Records of Malte Laurids Brigge .

In the German-speaking area and neighboring countries, numerous streets are named after Rilke (with or without a first name). On December 7, 2011, a memorial plaque and a Rilke bust, designed by the Czech sculptor Vlasta Prachatická, were unveiled on the building of the former German school in the center of Prague. There are at least three schools that have Rilke on their behalf: the Rilke Realschule in Stuttgart (since 1960), the Rainer-Maria-Rilke-Gymnasium in Icking (Upper Bavaria) (since 2011) and the Rilke School in Anchorage in Alaska ( since 1997). Paris has also opened a Médiathèque Rainer Maria Rilke in the 5th arrondissement.

In 1986 the Fondation Rilke was founded on the initiative of the Swiss community of Sierre . It organizes exhibitions, catalogs, lectures, readings and scientific exchanges.

After Marbach, Bern and Zurich, a Rilke exhibition was shown in the Moscow Literature Museum from February 7 to March 31, 2018. From September 21, 2018 to January 6, 2019, the Paula Modersohn-Becker Museum in Bremen showed the exhibition “Rilke in Bremen”.

In Ronda , Andalusia , where Rilke spent the winter of 1912/1913 and wrote the “Spanish Trilogy”, the poet is commemorated with a statue and a school auditorium.


Complete and work editions

  • Complete Works. Seven volumes. Edited by the Rilke Archive in conjunction with Ruth Sieber-Rilke, obtained from Ernst Zinn . Insel Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 1955-1966 (Vol. 1-6), 1997 (Vol. 7).
    • On the basis of the first six volumes of the Complete Works , several complete editions appeared from 1966 in six or twelve volumes; as well as (less extensive) work editions in three or six volumes
  • Works. Annotated edition. Four volumes and a supplement volume. Edited by Manfred Engel , Ulrich Fülleborn , Dorothea Lauterbach, Horst Nalewski and August Stahl. Insel, Frankfurt am Main / Leipzig 1996 (Vol. 1–4), 2003 (Supplement), ISBN 978-3-458-06697-2 .
  • Collected Works. 5 volumes. Edited by Manfred Engel, Ulrich Fülleborn, Horst Nalewski and August Stahl. Insel, Frankfurt am Main 2003, ISBN 978-3-458-17186-7 . [Text selection based on the annotated edition .]
  • Silver snakes. The early stories from the estate. Edited by the Rilke archive in collaboration with Hella Sieber-Rilke, provided by August Stahl. Insel, Frankfurt am Main / Leipzig 2004, ISBN 978-3-458-17226-0 .
  • Rainer Maria Rilke: The will. Facsimile of the manuscript from the estate. In the appendix a transcription of the manuscript. Explanations and epilogue by Ernst Zinn. Insel Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 1974.

Poetry - volumes of poetry

Poems in French

Prose - Lyric prose

  • Pen and Sword (1893)
  • Pierre Dumont (written 1894)
  • The seamstress (written around 1894/1895)
  • What are the heathen raging? (approx. 1894/1895)
  • The One (written around 1894/1895)
  • The Rath Horn (written around 1894/1895)
  • The triad (written around 1894/1895)
  • Sister Helene (written around 1894/1895)
  • Silver snakes (written around 1894/1895)
  • To (written around 1894/1895)
  • Death (written around 1894/1895)
  • The ball (written around 1894/1895)
  • The Betteltoni (written around 1894/1895)
  • A saint (written around 1894/1895)
  • Two enthusiasts (written around 1894/1895)
  • Betty's Sunday Dream (written around 1894/1895)
  • The golden box (1895)
  • The Apostle (1896)
  • One character (1896)
  • Your Sacrifice (1896)
  • In the front garden (1896)
  • Sunday (1896)
  • Dances of death. Twilight Sketches (1896)
  • Requiem (written around 1897)
  • Holy Spring (1897)
  • Masks (1898)
  • Quiet accompaniment (1898)
  • Generations (1898)
  • Alive, Novellas and Sketches (1898)
  • Ewald Tragy (written 1898)
  • The cardinal. A biography (written 1899)
  • Mrs. Blaha's maid (written 1899)
  • Distant views. Sketch from the Florence of the Quattrocento (1899)
  • Two Prague Stories (1899)
  • In Life (1899)
  • Devil's Spook (1899)
  • The Laughter of Pán Mráz (1899)
  • Vladimir the Cloud Painter (1899)
  • One Tomorrow (1899)
  • The House (1900)
  • The last (1901) Bielefeld University Library
  • The Lover (1901)
  • Reflexes (1902)
  • The Dragon Slayer (1902)
  • The gymnastics lesson (1st version, written 1899, 2nd version 1902)
  • The grave gardener (written in 1899), final version: The grave digger (1903)
  • About God and Other (1900), from 2nd edition (1904): Stories about God
  • Die Weise von Liebe und Tod des Cornets Christoph Rilke (written in 1899, first published in 1904 in: Deutsche Arbeit. Jg. 4. 1904, H. 1, S. 59-65. This “first version” was based on a manuscript Facsimile later published by Insel / Leipzig in 525 numbered pieces; 1906 first independent edition by A. Juncker, Berlin / Leipzig / Stuttgart; new edition as Volume 1 of the Insel-Bücherei , Leipzig 1912 ff.)
  • The Notes of Malte Laurids Brigge , Roman (1910)

Dramatic works

  • The end of the world (1894, three-act act, lost)
  • The tower room (1895)
  • Now and in the hour of our death (1896, one-act play)
  • In the early frost (1897, three-act act)
  • Höhenluft (written in 1897, first printed in 1961, one-act act)
  • Without the present (1897, two-act)
  • Little Mothers (1898, one-act play)
  • The white princess (written in 1898, revised in 1904)
  • Orphans (1901, scene)
  • Daily Life (1901, two act)

Writings on art and literature


  • Total expenditure:
    • Collected letters in six volumes. Edited by Ruth Sieber-Rilke and Carl Sieber. Leipzig 1936–1939.
    • Letters. Edited by the Rilke archive in Weimar. 2 volumes. Wiesbaden 1950 (new edition 1987 in one volume - as a paperback edition in three volumes: Frankfurt am Main 1987, ISBN 3-458-32567-0 ).
    • Letters in two volumes. Edited by Horst Nalewski. Frankfurt / Leipzig 1991.
    • Rainer Maria Rilke - Sidonie Nádherny von Borutin: Correspondence 1906–1926. Edited by Joachim W. Storck, Waltraud and Friedrich Pfäfflin. Wallstein Verlag, Göttingen 2005, ISBN 978-3-89244-983-6 .
    • Rainer Maria Rilke - Letters to Nanny Wunderly-Volkart , two volumes; on behalf of the Swiss National Library and with the assistance of Niklaus Bigler, provided by Rätus Luck; Insel Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 1977.
  • Individual issues:
    • Letters to a Young Poet (1903–1908).
    • Letters to the mother. 1896-1926. Published by Hella Sieber-Rilke. Insel Verlag, Frankfurt am Main / Leipzig 2009, ISBN 978-3-458-17318-2 .
    • Letters to a Venetian friend. Edited and translated from the French by Margret Millischer. Leipziger Literaturverlag, 2010, ISBN 978-3-86660-117-8 . (Not included in total editions.)
    • Correspondence with Thankmar von Münchhausen 1913 to 1925. Edited by Joachim W. Storck. Island, 2004.
  • Paris is needed - correspondence between Rilke and Mathilde Vollmoeller. Wallstein, Göttingen 2001.
  • Rainer Maria Rilke - Marie Gagarine-Obolenski. Transatlantic correspondence. Edited by Rätus Luck. Futura Edition, Wolfenbüttel 2011.

Bilingual editions

  • Lara sacrifice. Bilingual annotated edition, translated by Alfred de Zayas . Red Hen Press, Los Angeles 2005-
  • The Essential Rilke. Selected poems translated into English by Galway Kinnell and Hannah Liebmann. The Ecco Press, Hopewell, New Jersey 1999.
  • Rilke. Selected Poems. Translated by CF MacIntyre, University of California Press, Berkeley 1940.
  • The Book of Images. Translated by Edward Snow. North Point Press, New York 1991.
  • The best of Rilke. Translated by Walter Arndt. University Press of New England, Hanover 1984, ISBN 0-87451-460-6 / ISBN 0-87451-461-4 .
  • Selected Poems by Rainer Maria Rilke. Translated by Robert Bly. Harper & Row, New York 1981.
  • Letters to a Venetian friend. Edited and translated from the French by Margret Millischer. Leipziger Literaturverlag, 2010, ISBN 978-3-86660-117-8 .
  • Pieseň o láske a smrti korneta Krištofa Rilkeho. Translated by Milan Richter. MilaniuM 2006.
  • Dark complaints. Lyric works in two volumes. Publishing house 'Bogdan, Ternopil / Ukraine 2007.
  • Las elegías del Duino. Translated by Otto Dörr. Editorial Universitaria, Santiago, Chile, 2001.
  • Sonetos a Orfeo. Translated by Otto Dörr. Editorial Universitaria, Santiago, Chile, 2002.


  • From the French:
    • La Brise en larmes by Fernand Gregh
    • La Géante by Charles Baudelaire
    • The Death of the Poor by Charles Baudelaire
    • Les Plaines d'un Icare by Charles Baudelaire
    • Twelve songs by Maurice Maeterlinck
    • Poursuite by Anna de Noailles
    • I write that when I am no longer from Anna de Noailles
    • Tu vis, je dois l'azur by Anna de Noailles
    • Heavenly Lord, ruler of earth (ballad that Villon wrote at his mother's request to invoke Our Lady) by François Villon
    • The Kentauer by Maurice de Guérin
    • From the birth of Alexander by Princess Marthe Bibesco
    • Alexander dies in Babylon from Princess Marthe Bibesco
    • The letters of the Marianna Alcoforado by Gabriel de Lavergne Vicomte de Guilleragues
    • A Mademoiselle Clémence de Bourge by Louise Labé
    • The twenty-four sonnets by Louise Labé
    • Cut a tree tall and tall ( Das Bestiarum , verses 201–214) by Guillaume Le Clerc
    • The return of the prodigal son of André Gide
    • Agnus Dei by Paul Verlaine
    • Les Morts que… by Paul Verlaine
    • The dead by Emile Verhaeren
    • Suprême Apothéose by Emile Verhaeren
    • Sonnet ( A Point Slipping ) by Stéphane Mallarmé
    • Sonnet ( The new today, lively, beautiful and untouched ) by Stéphane Mallarmé
    • Fan by Mademoiselle Mallarmé by Stéphane Mallarmé
    • Tombeau by Stéphane Mallarmé
    • Stamping (VI, VII, IX, XVII) by Jean Moréas
    • A l'Ami by Xavier de Magallon
    • L'Amateur de poèmes by Paul Valéry
    • Poems (16 Poems by Charmes ) by Paul Valéry
    • Fragments on Narcissus by Paul Valéry
    • The soul and the dance of Paul Valéry
    • Eupalinos or the architect of Paul Valéry
    • Aunt Berthe from Paul Valéry
  • From Italian:



Rilke Chronicle

Overall representations

Individual aspects

  • Beda Allemann : Time and figure with the late Rilke. Pfullingen 1961.
  • Günther Anders : About Rilke and the German ideology (from the estate: Cornet -Redure 1948). In: sans phrase . Journal for Ideology Criticism, Issue 7, Fall 2015, pp. 109–131. ISSN  2194-8860 .
  • Ulrich C. Baer (Ed.): Rainer Maria Rilke: The prose. Frankfurt am Main 2016, ISBN 978-3-458-17685-5 .
  • Dieter Bassermann: The other Rilke: collected writings from the estate. Edited by Hermann Mörchen . Gentner, Bad Homburg vor der Höhe 1961.
  • Dieter Bassermann: Rilke's legacy for our time. Berlin u. a., 1947.
  • Dieter Bassermann: The late Rilke. Leibniz, Munich 1947.
  • Edda Bauer (Hrsg.): Rilke studies: To work and impact history. Aufbau-Verlag, Berlin 1976.
  • Hans Berendt: Rainer Maria Rilke's New Poems. Attempt at an interpretation. Bern 1957.
  • Leonid Certkov: Rilke in Russia. Due to new materials. Vienna 1975.
  • Paul Claes: Rilke's Riddle: A New Interpretation of the New Poems. From the Dutch by Marlene Müller-Haas. Athena-Verlag 2009, ISBN 978-3-89896-335-0 .
  • Jean Rudolf von Salis : Rainer Marias Rilke's Swiss Years , written on the 10th anniversary of his death on December 29, 1936. Huber, Frauenfeld / Leipzig 1936, DNB 362218463 .
  • Johannes Cramer: God is close and difficult to grasp. An experiment about Rainer Maria Rilke, Hans Carossa and Gertrud von le Fort. Paulus-Verlag 1948.
  • Günther Däss: Intuition and Faithfulness to Reality in Rilke's Duinese Elegies. Haarlem University Press, 1970.
  • Gunnar Decker : Rilke's Women or The Invention of Love. Reclam, Leipzig 2004, ISBN 978-3-379-00816-7 .
  • Ilija Dürhammer (Ed.): Mysticism, Myths & Modernism: Trakl, Rilke, Hofmannsthal. 21 poem interpretations. Praesens Verlag, 2010, ISBN 978-3-7069-0614-2 .
  • Manfred Engel, Dieter Lamping (Hrsg.): Rilke and the world literature. Artemis and Winkler, Munich 1998, ISBN 3-538-07084-9 .
  • Richard Exner : Rainer Maria Rilke: The life of Mary. Presented by Richard Exner. Frankfurt am Main 1999, ISBN 978-3-458-16981-9 .
  • Barbara Fritz: Rainer Maria Rilke's Readers in School and Society: Reception 1904–1936. Diss. Frankfurt 2009, ISBN 978-3-631-59006-5 .
  • Rolf Geffken : The great work: Worpswede in the life and work of Rainer Maria Rilkes , Edition Falkenberg 2016, ISBN 978-3-95494-043-1
  • Ralph Gleis , Maria Obenaus (ed.): Rodin - Rilke - Hofmannsthal. Man and his genius. Berlin 2017, ISBN 978-3-95732-297-5 .
  • Rüdiger Görner : Rainer Maria Rilke. In the heart of language. Hanser / Zsolnay Verlag, Munich / Vienna 2004, ISBN 978-3-379-00816-7 .
  • Ulrich K. Goldsmith : Rainer Maria Rilke, a verse concordance to his complete lyrical poetry. WS Maney, Leeds 1980.
  • Gisela Götte, Jo-Anne Birnie Danzker (ed.): Rainer Maria Rilke and the visual arts of his time. Munich 1996, ISBN 3-7913-1750-4 .
  • Wolfram Groddeck: Interpretations: Poems by Rainer Maria Rilke. Reclam-Verlag, 1999, ISBN 978-3-15-017510-1 .
  • Romano Guardini : Rainer Maria Rilke's interpretation of existence. An interpretation of the Duinese elegies. 1953. Reprint. Mainz 1996, ISBN 3-7867-1948-9 ; Paderborn 1996, ISBN 3-506-74552-2 .
  • Erich Heller : Nowhere will the world be but inside: experiments on Rilke. Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt am Main 1975.
  • Alfred Hermann: Rilke's Egyptian History. 'An attempt at mutual illumination of poetry and ancient culture'. In: Symposion, Yearbook for Philosophy. Edited by Max Müller. Volume IV. Freiburg i. Br./München 1955, pp. 367-461.
  • Gertrud Höhler : Nobody's son: On the poetology of Rainer Maria Rilke. Wilhelm Fink-Verlag, 1979, ISBN 978-3-7705-1574-5 .
  • Anette and Peter Horn: “I'm learning to see.” On Rilke's poetry. Athena-Verlag, 2010, ISBN 978-3-89896-397-8 .
  • Andrea Hübener, Erich Unglaub (Ed.): Leaves of the Rilke Society 29/2008: Rilkes Dresden. The book of pictures. Insel-Verlag 2008, ISBN 978-3-458-17424-0 .
  • Heinrich Imhof: Rilke's God. RM Rilke's image of God as a reflection of the unconscious. Stiehm Verlag, Heidelberg 1988, ISBN 978-3-7988-0036-6 .
  • Maria Jansen: Poetics of Horror: About Rainer Maria Rilke's "Notes of Malte Laurids Brigge". AV Akademikerverlag, 2013, ISBN 978-3-639-47549-4 .
  • Gerhard Junge: Investigations of motifs for the French poems of Rainer Maria Rilke. Dissertation Univ. Marburg 1956. GoogleBooks
  • Sung-Kie Im: Dynamics of Space. The motifs of the wind and the breath in Rilke's poetry. Dissertation Karlsruhe 1979.
  • Martina King: Pilgrim and Prophet: Holy Authorship with Rainer Maria Rilke. Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2009, ISBN 978-3-525-20603-4 .
  • Karl-Josef Kuschel : Rilke and the Buddha. The story of a unique dialogue. Guetersloher Verlagshaus, 2010, ISBN 978-3-579-07020-9 .
  • Karen Leeder , Robert Vilain (Ed.): After Duino: Studies on Rainer Maria Rilke's late poems. Wallstein-Verlag, 2010, ISBN 978-3-8353-0425-3 .
  • Sascha Löwenstein: Poetics and poetic self-image. An introduction to Rainer Maria Rilke's early poems. Königshausen & Neumann, Würzburg 2004.
  • Sascha Löwenstein: Rilke's drama poetics. Knowledge Publishing house, Berlin 2011.
  • Gisli Magnússon: Poetry as metaphysics of experience: esoteric and occult metaphysics in RM Rilke. Univ. habil., Würzburg 2009, ISBN 978-3-8260-4076-4 .
  • Bernhard Marx: 'My world begins with things'. Rainer Maria Rilke and the experience of things. Königshausen and Neumann, Würzburg 2015, ISBN 978-3-8260-5622-2 .
  • Eudo C. Mason: Lifestyle and symbolism with Rainer Maria Rilke. 2nd Edition. Oxford 1964.
  • Hermann Mörchen: Rilke's sonnets to Orpheus. Stuttgart 1958.
  • Gerhard Oberlin : Being in decline. Rainer Maria Rilke's writer's block and his last poetological poems. In: New German Review, Vol. 20 / 2005−6, pp. 8–40.
  • Silke Pasewalck: "The five-fingered hand": The importance of sensual perception in the late Rilke. de Gruyter Verlag, Berlin 2002, ISBN 3-11-017265-8 .
  • Jörg Paulus, Erich Unglaub (Ed.): In the Black Forest. Sheets of the Rilke Society; Volume 31. Göttingen, Wallstein-Verlag 2012, ISBN 3-8353-1137-9 .
  • Sabine Prilop, Ursula Brunbauer: Rainer Maria Rilke: The Russian trips. HerzRosen, 1999, ISBN 3-934114-00-8 .
  • Walter Rehm: Orpheus. The poet and the dead. Self-interpretation and the cult of the dead in Novalis, Hölderlin, Rilke. Düsseldorf 1950.
  • Marcel Reich-Ranicki (Ed.): Rainer Maria Rilke. And became a festival. 33 poems with interpretations. Insel-Verlag 2000, ISBN 978-3-458-34311-0 .
  • Jessica Riemer: Rilke's early work in music: studies of the history of reception on the subject of death. Heidelberg, Univ., Diss., 2009, ISBN 978-3-8253-5698-9 .
  • Judith Ryan: Envelope and Transformation. Poetic structure and poetry theory in RM Rilke's poetry of the Middle Period (1907–1914). Munich 1972.
  • Günther Schiwy : Rilke and religion. Frankfurt am Main 2006, ISBN 3-458-17331-5 .
  • Adolf J. Schmid : Rilke in Rippoldsau: 1909 a. 1913 - nice pages in the guest book of the reliable Kurtal valley. Apis-Verlag, Freiburg im Breisgau 1984.
  • Erich Simenauer: The dream at RM Rilke. Bern / Stuttgart 1976, ISBN 3-258-02432-4 .
  • August Stahl: Rilke - Commentary on the lyric work. Winkler-Verlag, 1990, ISBN 978-3-538-07025-7 .
  • August Stahl: Rilke - Commentary on the notes of Malte Laurids Brigge. Winkler-Verlag, Munich 1990, ISBN 978-3-538-07027-1 .
  • Jacob Steiner: Rilke's Duineser Elegies. 2nd Edition. Bern / Munich 1969.
  • Jacob Steiner: Rilke. Lectures and essays. Published by the Literary Society (Scheffelbund) Karlsruhe (= annual edition). from Loeper-Verlag, Karlsruhe 1986.
  • Erich Unglaub : Rilke work. Peter Lang-Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 2002, ISBN 978-3-631-39050-4 .
  • Erich Unglaub: Panthers and Ashanti: Rilke poems from a cultural-scientific point of view. Peter Lang-Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 2005, ISBN 978-3-631-53791-6 .
  • Raoul Walisch: “That we are not very reliable at home in the interpreted world”: investigation into the subject of the interpreted world in Rilke's “The Record of Malte Laurids Brigge”, “Duineser Elegien” and the latest poetry. Univ. Diss., Würzburg 2012, ISBN 978-3-8260-4927-9 .
  • Gunna Wendt: Lou Andreas-Salomé and Rilke - an amour fou. Insel-Verlag 2010, ISBN 978-3-458-35352-2 .
  • Maurice Zermatten : The Call of Silence: Rilke's Valais Years. Rascher Verlag, Zurich 1954.
  • Marek Zybura : One hundred years of Polish Rilke reception. In: ders: lateral thinker, mediator, border crosser. Dresden 2007, ISBN 978-3-934038-87-5 .
  • Peter Bussler: With Rainer Maria Rilke on Neuwerk. A visit to the island and its expression in Rilke's poetry . In: Men from Morgenstern, Heimatbund an Elbe and Weser estuary e. V. (Ed.): Niederdeutsches Heimatblatt . No. 837 . Nordsee-Zeitung GmbH, Bremerhaven September 2019, p. 3 ( digital version [PDF; 2.5 MB ; accessed on October 10, 2019]).

Web links

Commons : Rainer Maria Rilke  - Album with pictures, videos and audio files

Overall representations

Text collections

Wikisource: Rainer Maria Rilke  - Sources and full texts


Bibliographical references

Link collections

Audio representations

Reviews of new editions

Individual evidence

  1. Wolfgang G. Müller. In: Manfred Engel (Ed.): Rilke manual, life - work - effect . Metzler, Stuttgart 2013, p. 296.
  2. a b Rainer Maria Rilke / biography on xlibris.de
  3. Roman Bucheli : Rilke in Russia: Maybe it was just a misunderstanding. In: Neue Zürcher Zeitung , September 14, 2017.
  4. Irina Antonowa, Jörn Merkert (Ed.): Berlin – Moscow 1900–1950. Exhibition catalog. Berlin 1995, ISBN 3-7913-1488-2 , p. 163.
  5. literaturkritik.de
  6. Rome, October 29, 1903 : “I received your letter of August 29 in Florence […]. I still live in the city on the Capitol, [...]; But in a few weeks I will move into a quiet, simple room, an old arbor, which is lost deep in a large park, hidden from the city, its noise and chance. I will live there the whole winter and enjoy the great silence from which I expect the gift of good and efficient hours ... "
  7. ^ Photo by Rainer Maria Rilke in the "Studio al Ponte", 1904 , digital collection of Heinrich Heine University
  8. The view from Rilke's studio at Villa Strohl Fern , on ardinsgardens.wordpress.com
  9. ^ Marina Bohlmann-Modersohn: Clara Rilke-Westhoff. btb Verlag, 2015, ISBN 978-3-641-12310-9 ( limited preview in Google book search).
  10. See the report on Thomas Schmidt's lecture from the DLA Marbach in the Prague Literature House: Konstantin Kountouroyanis: Rainer Maria Rilke: Heimatsuche eines Heimatlos Kosmopoliten. A workshop report from the archives of Europe on the 140th birthday of the poet from Prague. In: prag-aktuell.cz, December 6, 2015; Retrieved December 10, 2015.
  11. ^ Rainer Maria Rilke in the Vienna History Wiki of the City of Vienna
  12. Ralf Höller: It's over! Revolution! March!' Amicable and yet diverging: The two writers Rainer Maria Rilke and Oskar Maria Graf experienced the November Revolution and the Bavarian Soviet Republic in Munich. In: Neues Deutschland, 29./30. December 2018, pp. 14–15
  13. ^ To Kurt Wolf, March 28, 1917. S. Stefan Schank: Rainer Maria Rilke. Pp. 119-121.
  14. Renate Egli-Gerber: The last owners of the Seeburg in Kreulingen. In: Thurgauer Jahrbuch 2008/2009. Accessed April 30, 2020 .
  15. ^ Photograph by Baladine Klossowska with Rilke
  16. ^ Rainer Maria Rilke: Lettres Milanaises. 1921-1926. Paris 1956, pp. 84f, pp. 184-186.
  17. ^ The grave of Rainer Maria Rilke. knerger.de
  18. For the interpretation cf. Dieter Bassermann: The "pure contradiction". Reflections on a Rilke word . In: Die Zeit , No. 25/1946.
  19. Rainer Maria Rilke - Original Sound (1919) at rilke.de
  20. Michael Denhoff: Text on the work .
  21. ^ Bertold Hummel: Texts on the works: opus 71c .
  22. Udo Lindenberg: The panther. For singing. Sony / ATV Music Publishing, 2000. Audio on YouTube.
  23. Rilke Zauber "You don't have to understand life ..." (No longer available online.) Archived from the original on October 15, 2014 ; accessed on October 31, 2014 . Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / www.theatermollerhaus.de
  24. ^ Rilke Foundation
  25. rilke-russland.net
  26. museen-boettcherstrasse.de
  27. hemingwayswelt.de
This version was added to the list of articles worth reading on August 25, 2005 .