Rainer Maria Rilke

   Rainer Maria Rilke (1875-1926) was one of the most important lyric poets in German literature and a major representative of the symbolism movement. His poems are characterized by richness of imagery and melody and fine shades of meaning. They have a tone of self-examination and prophecy.
   Rilke's cycle of poems The Book of Hours (1905) expresses a longing for a mystic union with God. New Poems (1907, 1908) contains works that try to express the essence, or "idea," of an object or experience. Rilke's novel The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge (1910) portrays the loneliness and confusion of a young poet searching for identity in turbulent Paris. The Duino Elegies (1923) and Sonnets to Orpheus (1923) are poems that praise human existence.
   Rilke was born in Prague. He spent much of his life wandering through Europe.