Selected New Poems of Rainer Maria Rilke


This is a translation of Rilke’s Selected New Poems by a German scholar and poet, Alice Derry. Derry herself has spent years studying Rilke, and has lived and worked in Germany.

“Fluent in German and herself a fine poet, Derry enables us to experience Rilke’s world in its shimmering dualities.” -Charlotte Warren

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This small books consists of a dozen of Alice Derry’s translations from the German poet, Rainer Rilke. She fell in love with this poet who used German like music. How often he has been translated; how we are still in dire need of more. Cover’s watercolor painting by Derry’s daughter, Lisel Murdock

“Alice Derry’s renditions of Rilke’s short but difficult New Poems have an ease that comes only from living with the originals for a long time and letting them blossom from within.” -Gary Miranda


Alice Derry was born in Oregon and raised in Washington and Montana. She received her M.F.A. from Goddard College (now Warren Wilson College) in 1980, taught by poets William Matthews, Lisel Mueller and Louise Glück. She’s published six books of poetry and read widely from her work. Strangers to Their Courage, was a finalist for the Washington Book Award in 2002. After thirty-seven years teaching writing and literature, she recently retired from Peninsula College. For more than a quarter century, she co-directed the Foothills Writers Series, hosting about fifteen readings a year. Most of this updated info comes from Derry’s website. To find out more, please visit:

Other books and Poems by Alice Derry: Tremolo, HungerStages of TwilightGetting Used to the BodyNot As You Once ImaginedClearwater, Strangers To Their Courage

Excerpt from Translations of Rainer Rilke’s New Poems

“Archaischer Torso Apollos

Wir kannten nicht sein unerhörtes Haupt,
darin die Augenäpfel reiften. Aber
sein Torso glüht noch wie ein Kandelaber,
in dem sein Schauen, nur zurückgeschraubt,

sich hält und glänzt. Sonst könnte nicht der Bug
der Brust dich blenden, und im leisen Drehen
der Lenden könnte nicht ein Lächeln gehen
zu jener Mitte, die die Zeugung trug.

Sonst stünde dieser Stein entstellt und kurz
unter der Schultern durchsichtigem Sturz
und flimmerte nicht so wie Raubtierfelle;

und bräche nicht aus allen seinen Rändern
aus wie ein Stern: denn das ist keine Stelle,
die dich nicht sieht. Du mußt dein Leben ändern.
—Rainer Rilke

“Archaic Torso of Apollo”

We never knew the astonishing head
in which his eyes mellowed. His torso, though
is glowing still, like a dimmed chandelier,
so that his gaze, merely lessened, endures,

shines on. Otherwise the arc of the chest
couldn’t dazzle you nor could a smile
drift from the light twist of the loins
to the center which carried creation.

Otherwise this stone would stand distorted,
abrupt, beneath the shoulders’ transparent plunge,
and wouldn’t glisten like a wild beast’s pelt;

and wouldn’t break from its boundaries
like a star: for there is no place here
which doesn’t see you. You must change your life.

Additional information

Weight 8.8 oz
Dimensions 5.2 × 0.4 × 8.2 in



Rainer Maria Rilke




Original Language



Alice Derry

Publish Date


Page/Word Count

44 pages


“Most impressively, author of Grace Period and translator of Rilke’s Duino Elegies, these translations manage to capture the tone of controlled urgency that is unmistakably Rilke.” –Gary Miranda




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