‘What if not Transformation…: Poetry After Rilke' at the Southbank Centre, July 2014

‘What if not Transformation…: Poetry After Rilke’, A series of special events curated for Poetry International 2014 at the Southbank Centre by Karen Leeder

One of the main events of the Mediatiing Modern Poetry project was a series  of events celebrating the legacy of Rainer Maria Riulke in contemporay German and English poetry

Main Poetry reading with Sujata Bhatt, Durs Grünbein, Patrick McGuinness and Don Paterson, chaired by Karen Leeder, Purcell Room Southbank Centre; Sunday 20 July 2014

Click to hear Sujata Bhatt read her poem 'Another Daphne' and to hear Durs Grünbein's 'Torso of Polyphemus'.

Roundtable discussion: ‘Responses to Rilke: Sujata Bhatt, Durs Grünbein, Patrick McGuinness and Don Paterson in conversation with Karen Leeder’, Foyer, Queen Elziabeth Hall, Southbank Centre, Sinday 20 July 2014

See more about the Rilke events here and download a podcast of the readings. Link to some information and some of the new poems commissioned for the event, published in MPT special issue The Constellation in July 2014.

Rilke and Translation Master Class, led by Karen Leeder, 21 July 2014.

One of the exciting aspects of the celebration of Rilke at the Southbank Poetry International (2014) was the chance  for some hands-on translation in a masterclass focussed on the work of Rilke. After discussing some of the different approaches everyone had a go at translating and versioning one of Rilke's most famous and difficult poems, Herbsttag. Hear it read in German and see some of the best of the translations from the day below.


Rilke Herbsttag

Herr, es ist Zeit. Der Sommer war sehr groß.
Leg deinen Schatten auf die Sonnenuhren,
und auf den Fluren lass die Winde los.
Befiehl den letzten Früchten, voll zu sein;
gib ihnen noch zwei südlichere Tage,           
dränge sie zur Vollendung hin, und jage
die letzte Süße in den schweren Wein.
Wer jetzt kein Haus hat, baut sich keines mehr.
Wer jetzt allein ist, wird es lange bleiben,
wird wachen, lesen, lange Briefe schreiben
und wird in den Alleen hin und her
unruhig wandern, wenn die Blätter treiben.
And the translations!

Herr: es ist Zeit

Lord – the time has come: The summer was tremendous,
now let your shadow cover the sun-dials
and in the fields unleash the winds
Order the last of the fruit to get ready,
allow them  just two more sun-warmed days
urge them to ripen, make the juice of the grapes
heavy and sweet as never before
Those who have not yet made their home, will not find one now,
those still on their own, will stay that way for ever -
watching, reading, writing countless letters,
searching,  restless, through the avenues,
driven like the fallen leaves.


Translation © Renate Matthews


Rilke ‘Herr: es ist Zeit’

Lord, it is time. Your summer was immense.
Stretch your shadows further on the dials
And on the threshing floors let slip the winds.

Fulfill the last fruits by your word.
Give them two more sun-drenched, southern days.
Bid them to ripen and then urge
A final sweetness into the heavy wine.

Those still without a home will not build one now.
Those still alone will so remain, for years;
May read all night and write long letters.
Restive, they may roam the avenues, the driven leaves
And driving sheets around their heads and feet.


Translation © Micha Myers



Autumn Day



Lord, it is time. The summer was so large.

Settle your shadows over the sundials,

and over the fields let the wild winds loose.


Urge the last final fruits to ripen,

give them just two more south-facing days, 

push them to perfection, and sweep

their last sweet notes into heavy wine.


Who now has no house, will build no more. 

Who now is alone, will long remain so,

will waken, read, write lengthy letters,

and along the avenues to and fro

roam restlessly, as the leaves blow.


Translation © Alicia Mason


Images from the Rilke events at the Southbank Centre London, July 2014

What if not Transformation....Sujata Bhatt, Durs Grünbein, Patrick McGuinness, Don Paterson, Karen Leeder

Main Reading and Discussion. All photos (c) Belinda Lawley