New York: Philosophical Library, 1951. First edition. 12 mo. (7 3/8 inches tall), original gilt black cloth, original dust jacket. Faint tanning to blank flyleaf, gentle toning to jacket, else about Fine. Item #1046
"AH, THE SAVIOR IN HER STILL WAS BUD / BUT IN HER COUSIN'S WOMB, THE BAPTIST COULD / AND DID, LEAP IN RAPTURE AND DELIGHT" First American edition of Rainer Maria Rilke's Das Marien-Leben—the German text with an English translation and introduction by Stephen Spender. Rilke evidently began composing this cycle of Marian poems in 1900 but apparently did not complete the work until 1912. The thirteen poems are arranged chronologically, hewing to a traditional New Testament narrative. Rilke wasn't an orthodox believer, but these poems convey an innate familiarity with the mystery and drama of the life of the Mother of God. Stephen Spender, in his Translator's Introduction, writes of the origins of the work and the influences on Rilke. He also argues that The Life of the Virgin Mary is not one of Rilke's marginal works: "The poetry is best (and also most difficult to translate ) when it is simplest, as in Visitation of the Virgin and the immensely moving Before the Passion. These, and some of the others are so good that it seems strange this work should be regarded as a by-product of Rilke's work." The poems include: Birth of Mary, Presentation of Mary in the Temple, Annunciation to Mary, Visitation of the Virgin, Joseph's Suspicion, Annunciation over the Shepherds, Birth of Christ, Rest on the Flight into Egypt, Of the Marriage at Cana, Before the Passion, Pietà, Consolation of Mary with the Risen Christ, Of the Death of Mary (Three Pieces). Printed in the same year as the first British edition. Spender’s English translation was preceded by a 1949 American translation by C.F. MacIntyre.