Duino Elegies

Rainer Maria Rilke , translated by Alison Croggon

2023 Shortlisted

Cover image of Duino Elegies
Translated by
Alison Croggon

Judges' comments

Translated from German  

The 10 poems in the Duino Elegies cycle offer the reader ruminations on what John Kinsella calls ‘the constant questions, the constant search for light’. As Alison Croggon points out, these poems are in many ways performative, which adds an extra layer of richness to the poems and an extra level of complexity for the translator. These are poems that make the reader stop and reread purely to absorb the profundity of the verse.  

There is an energy about this translation of the poems which sets it apart from previous translations. At the same time, Croggon restores what she terms the ‘jaggedness’ of the poems, an element that has been ‘tamed’ in earlier translations. This translation is underpinned by Croggon’s meticulous attention to detail, revealing the impact that, for example, even a particular preposition can have on the tone or meaning of a line of verse. 

Updated on 23 February 2024