The Sonnets to Orpheus
Translated by John Rosenwald, Professor Emeritus of English
Covered Bridge Press, 2021
Alumni taking courses in Beloit’s English department between the late 1970s and early 2000s were most likely introduced to the celebrated German language poet Rainer Maria Rilke by poet and English professor John Rosenwald. And even if they weren’t enrolled in one of Rosenwald’s courses, they probably learned about Rilke’s The Sonnets to Orpheus by attending his many readings and discussions on the topic.
Last year, in anticipation of the sonnets’ centenary in 2022, Rosenwald completed his definitive translation of the collection.
Rosenwald first encountered these sonnets at age 20. He spent nearly a year working with them during a Fulbright grant in Germany, reading and responding to the poems, then beginning to translate them. For the past 50 years, he has worked on several translations and studied and taught the work. For the centenary, he reworked all 55 poems one last time. This volume contains all of the sonnets in English and in German and represents a labor of love by this beloved professor of English, who taught at Beloit from 1976-2010 and edited the Beloit Poetry Journal for four decades.