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that characterizes modernity for Rilke is describedas ‘Acts beneath encrustrations / that burst easily the moment the innards / seekout newboundaries for themselves’. There are alsoofteninexplicabledeviationsoramplificationsthat, unlike in Paterson, hardly bring us closer to the German or do anything fortheEnglish. Atranslation issometimesobligedto clarify, but whereas Paterson does this with a quick, sure touch, Crucefix tends to elucidate too much. But such problems beset most versions of the Elegies inEnglish, and thereareenoughmomentsof successful transpositiontomake histranslationuseful if notindispensable. Inher introductionKarenLeeder speaks of the Elegies as ‘reiterating the uniqueness of the here and nowdespite – indeedpreciselybecause of –its fragility’. At theendof his Afterword, Patersondeclares ‘thewordEarth’ –whichhehas alreadybroughttoourattentioninhisversionsbygivingita capital letter andsometimes includingit where the original doesn’t –‘the Sonnets’ heartbeat’. Perhaps Rilke’s popularity todaystems fromtheecological anxietyinhis work. Paterson has effectively turned the Orpheus myth, already made a ‘perfect alibi’ in‘TheLanding’ fromLanding Light, intoamyth of the Earth, as at the endof ‘The Trace’ (I, 26), where the wordappearsinplaceof ‘nature’:

Olostgod, youeternal trace! Onlythrough yourfinal scatteringcouldwebetrue andheartheEarth, tosingof whatshesings.

Charlie Louth

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