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Rainer Maria Rilke was a Bohemian-Austrian poet widely recognized as one of the most lyrically intense German-language poets. Critics have described Rilke's work as inherently mystical. His writings include one novel, several collections of poetry and several volumes of correspondence in which he invokes haunting images that focus on the difficulty of communion with the ineffable in an age of disbelief, solitude, and profound anxiety. 

Among English-language readers his best-known works include the Duino ElegiesThe Sonnets to Orpheus and a collection of ten letters that were published after his death under the title Letters to a Young Poet

On the Duino Elegies

Called Duino Elegies because Rilke began writing them in 1912 while staying at Duino Castle on the Italian Adriatic coast, the collection took ten years to complete, due to an inspiration-stifling depression the poet suffered during and after World War I. When his inspiration returned, however, the poet wrote a total of eleven lengthy poems for the book; later this was edited down to ten poems. The unifying poetic image that Rilke employs throughout Duino Elegies is that of angels, which carry many meanings. The angels represent a higher force in life, both beautiful and terrible, completely indifferent to mankind; they represent the power of poetic vision, as well as Rilke's personal struggle to reconcile art and life.