London: Vision Press Limited, 1951. Early English translation. Small octavo, original blue cloth, original dust jacket. Small owner signature to corner of free endpaper, toned dust jacket with closed tears on either side of the spine ends. Very good indeed. Item #398
"EACH ONE, FILLED WITH HER OWN SACRED GOOD/USED THE OTHER AS SHIELD IN HER PLIGHT/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 British editon, a lovely bi-lingual edition of Rainer Maria Rilke's Das Marien-Leben, or The Life of the Virgin Mary. Rilke evidently began composing this Marian cycle of poems in 1900 but apparently didn't complete the work until 1912. The thirteen poems are arranged chronologically, hewing to a traditonal 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). Preceded by an American translation by C.F. MacIntyre, published in Berkeley by University of California Press (1949).