In celebration of National Poetry Month, every day we're posting a new poem from the spoken-word album Poetic License, a three-CD set that features one hundred performers of stage and screen reading one hundred poems selected by the actors themselves. From Shakespeare and Dickinson to Lucille Clifton and Allen Ginsberg, the lineup spans contemporary American poetry and classics of the Western canon.
Rainer Maria Rilke (1875–1926) published his first volume of poetry, Leben und Lieder (Life and Songs), at the age of eighteen, before entering university, though it wasn't until his later works that Rilke's verse achieved the style for which the poet is best known. The evolution of the well-traveled poet's work was influenced by his associations with luminaries such as Leo Tolstoy in Russia and Auguste Rodin in France. Also a writer of letters, stories, and a novel, Rilke's collections of verse include Das Stunden Buch (The Book of Hours), Das Buch der Bilder (The Book of Images), Duineser Elegen (Duino Elegies), and Die Sonette an Orpheus (Sonnets to Orpheus).
Ann Hampton Callaway is a singer and songwriter known as a maven of American jazz standards. Her records include After Ours, Who Can See the Same Blue Again, and At Last.
Sonnet 3 From Sonnets to Orpheus by Rainer Maria Rilke, from Poetic License produced by Glen Roven. Copyright © 2010 by GPR Records. Used with permission of GPR Records.
Spread the word about debut poets and their work with this Pass-Along Poems chapbook. Print, assemble, and bind several handcrafted, saddle-stitched editions. Add your recommendations for first-time poets on the back pages, and while you’re at it, paste in your own polished, unpublished work or that of others you admire.
Need a dose of inspiration for your writing routine this April? Take our Poetry Challenge and try out a new writing prompt or poetry-related assignment every day during National Poetry Month.
Taking cues from Letters to a Young Poet, published more than seventy years ago, the Letters to Poets project puts an updated spin on Rilke’s experiment in mentorship with organized correspondence between two distinct types of poets.