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The Sonnets to Orpheus ~ Rainer Maria Rilke ~ Two Color Woodcut Prints by Balthus

Da steig ein Baum. O reine Übersteigung!
O Orpheus singt!. . .
Und alles schwieg. Doch selbst in der Verschweigung
ging neuer Anfang, Wink und Wandlung vor.

Tiere aus Stille drangen aus dem klaren
gelösten Wald von Lager und Genist;. . .

A tree ascended there. Oh pure transcendence!
O Orpheus sings! . . .
And all things hushed. Yet even in that silence
a new beginning, beckoning, change appeared.

Creatures of stillness crowded from the bright
unbound forest, out of their lairs and nests. . .

So begin The Sonnets To Orpheus by the greatest writer of poetry in German since Goethe. Rainer Maria Rilke endowed the words of his native tongue with a new and unique significance. Rilke “rarely describes a thing straightforwardly,” explains a biographer. “Instead, he uses the methods of a painter…He hints at parallels in other, unrelated realms, until the object stands before us, clearly and recognizable as itself…”

These fifty-five sonnets, published in 1923, three years before the poet’s death, describe his relationship to every aspect of creation, and view death as a continuation not a termination of life. In the original German with the superb English verse translation by Stephen Mitchell on facing pages. Balthus was encouraged by Rilke to dedicate his life to the arts. The two illustrations for this edition are a tribute to his childhood friend.

 

  • One volume, 13” x 16”
  • Two color woodcut prints by Balthus
  • Edition limited to three hundred numbered copies
  • Newsletter
  • Each book signed by Balthus
  • Print Portfolios are also available

 

The two Balthus images have been cut into woodblocks, one for each color, by the master Japanese blockmaker, Keiji Shinohara, who then printed them on handmade Kozo Uwazen paper. The text, set by hand, was printed on handmade Japanese paper. Book and box are bound in beige linen, overlapped with red Nigerian goatskin. 1997. $ 2,950.

Poetry: German and English

Poetry: German and English

Frontispiece and Title Page

Frontispiece and Title Page

Landscape

Landscape

Colophon Page

Colophon Page

Newsletter

Newsletter