Georg Trakl: Poems. Book One of our Trakl

translated by James Reidel

The poetry of Georg Trakl, a leading Austrian-German expressionist, has been praised by many, including his contemporaries Rainer Maria Rilke and Else Lasker-Schüler as well as his patron Ludwig Wittgenstein. The latter famously wrote that while he did not truly understand Trakl’s poems, they had the tone of a ‘truly ingenious person’. This difficulty in understanding Trakl’s poems is not unique. Since the first publication of his work in 1913, there has been endless discussion about how the verses should be understood, leading to controversies over the most accurate way to translate them.
In this new translation – the first in a three-volume collection of Trakl’s work – which marks his hundredth death anniversary, James Reidel is mindful of how the poet himself wished to be read, and emphasizes the order and content of the verses to achieve a musical effect. Trakl’s verses were also marked by allegiance to the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, a fact which Reidel honours with impressive research into the historicity of the poet’s language.
This volume sets itself apart as the best translation of Trakl available today and will introduce English readers to the powerful verses of this war-time poet.