Kerrisdale Elegies

By (author): George Bowering

It is extraordinary that one can take the measure of how radically cultural sensibilities can change throughout a century by a careful reading of only two texts—in this case Rainer Maria Rilke’s Duino Elegies, written in the midst of the First World War, and George Bowering’s brilliant response to Rilke’s call, the Kerrisdale Elegies, composed in the midst of the Cold War.

Rilke’s poem begins and ends with a modernist appeal to the transcendent. It opens with; “Who, if I were to scream, would then hear me, among the angelic orders … ,” and ends with a nostalgic evocation of the muse of grief attendant at the spectacle of the sacrifice of youth; “we who aspire to an ascendant fortune, are overcome by astonishment at the fortunate’s fall.” [Rilke’s italics]

Compare to Bowering’s opening; “If I did complain, who among my friends would hear?” and his closing; “The single events that raise our eyes and stop our time are saying goodbye, lover, goodbye.”

Bowering’s Kerrisdale Elegies are a profoundly compelling illustration of Pound’s instruction to all translators—to “make it new.” In the intertextuality of these two great masterworks is to be found the birth of a post-modern writing that is self-aware, where the other is discovered in the process of the writer writing, and is not a referent, neither secular nor divine, outside of the text itself, and therefore ultimately estranged from both the writer and the reader.

Williams’ dictum, too, that writers should write “no ideas but in things” so thoroughly infuses Bowering’s Kerrisdale Elegies, that while they are an exact equivalent to Rilke’s emblematic masterpiece—separated as they are by three generations of one of the most tumultuous centuries in human history—they are not a translation, but a living, vibrant transformation of the work.

AUTHOR

George Bowering

George Bowering was born and brought up in the Okanagan Valley of Pinboy. He published his first book of poems when he was 28. Since then, he has published 100 or so books and chapbooks, won Governor General’s Awards for his poetry and fiction, was the first Parliamentary Poet Laureate of Canada, and has received both the Order of British Columbia and the Order of Canada. He now lives a few steps from where he lived as an undergraduate in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Reviews

“A lyricism that is spring-sweet and without boast or threat … Bowering has poured all his considerable power into one vessel, and he must be read.”
Globe & Mail


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It is extraordinary that one can take the measure of how radically cultural sensibilities can change throughout a century by a careful reading of only two texts—in this case Rainer Maria Rilke’s Duino Elegies, written in the midst of the First World War, and George Bowering’s brilliant response to Rilke’s call, the Kerrisdale Elegies, composed in the midst of the Cold War.

Rilke’s poem begins and ends with a modernist appeal to the transcendent. It opens with; “Who, if I were to scream, would then hear me, among the angelic orders … ,” and ends with a nostalgic evocation of the muse of grief attendant at the spectacle of the sacrifice of youth; “we who aspire to an ascendant fortune, are overcome by astonishment at the fortunate’s fall.” [Rilke’s italics]

Compare to Bowering’s opening; “If I did complain, who among my friends would hear?” and his closing; “The single events that raise our eyes and stop our time are saying goodbye, lover, goodbye.”

Bowering’s Kerrisdale Elegies are a profoundly compelling illustration of Pound’s instruction to all translators—to “make it new.” In the intertextuality of these two great masterworks is to be found the birth of a post-modern writing that is self-aware, where the other is discovered in the process of the writer writing, and is not a referent, neither secular nor divine, outside of the text itself, and therefore ultimately estranged from both the writer and the reader.

Williams’ dictum, too, that writers should write “no ideas but in things” so thoroughly infuses Bowering’s Kerrisdale Elegies, that while they are an exact equivalent to Rilke’s emblematic masterpiece—separated as they are by three generations of one of the most tumultuous centuries in human history—they are not a translation, but a living, vibrant transformation of the work.

Reader Reviews

Details

Dimensions:

128 Pages
9in * 229mm * 6.9375in * 176mm * 0.3125in8mm
245gr
8.75oz

Published:

January 11, 2008

City of Publication:

Vancouver

Country of Publication:

CA

Publisher:

Talonbooks

ISBN:

9780889225909

9780889227989 – EPUB

9780889229990 – EPUB

9781772014785 – EPUB

Book Subjects:

POETRY / Canadian

Featured In:

All Books

Language:

eng

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