In one of the most astonishing bursts of creativity ever recorded, within a period of three weeks in February 1922, Rilke completed the Duineser Elegien (Duino Elegies), on which he had labored for ten years, and composed the 55 poems comprising both parts of the cycle Sonette an Orpheus (Sonnets to Orpheus). In contrast to the Elegies, which refer only occasionally to the form of the classical elegy, the Sonnets by and large conform to the form of the sonnet (fourteen lines consisting of two quatrains and two tercets), though taking considerable liberties in rhyme and meter. The cycle was written as a memorial to Vera Ouckama Knoop, a young woman dancer and friend of Rilke’s daughter Ruth,…

Please log in to consult the article in its entirety. If you are not a subscriber, please click here to read about membership. All our articles have been written recently by experts in their field, more than 95% of them university professors.

Kovach, Thomas A.. "Sonette an Orpheus". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 19 January 2012
[, accessed 02 July 2015.]