Georg Trakl: A Skeleton Plays Violin

translated by James Reidel

The work of poet Georg Trakl has been praised by many, including his contemporaries Rainer Maria Rilke and Else Lasker-Schüler, as well as his patron Ludwig Wittgenstein who famously wrote that while he did not truly understand Trakl’s poems, they had the tone of a ‘truly ingenious person’, which pleased him.

This selection gathers Trakl’s early, middle and late words, none of it published in book form during his lifetime, ranging from his haunting prose pieces to his darkly beautiful poems documenting the first bloody weeks of the First World War on the Eastern Front.
It also includes translations of unpublished poems and significant variants. Interpolated through this comprehensive and chronological selection is a biographical essay that provides more information about Trakl’s gifted and troubled life, especially as it relates to his poetry, as well as the necessary context of his relationship with his sister Grete, whose role as a muse to her brother remains controversial. Trakl’s life was mysterious and fascinating, as is his unmissable poetry in A Skeleton Plays Violin.