An undeniable aura surrounds the name of Georg Trakl, whose admirers included Rilke, Heidegger, Kraus, Kokoschka and Wittgenstein and the composers Berg, Webern and Hindemith who set his poems. He is the sombre visionary of the modern age; the autumnal, melancholy moods that predominate in his poetry herald the calamity of the First World War and its consequences. Neo-romantic, early modernist, his dense, vitally sensuous poetry marks the transition from Impressionism to Expressionism, transcending both categories.
Trakl wrote at a time of spiritual and social disintegration, when personal values and perceptions tended to be subsumed in a generalised sense of either anguish or exaltation. This is the background to his transcendent, often hymnic, always lyrical voice, and to his haunting imagery in which purgatory and paradise are never far apart.
First published by Libris in 2001 and now distributed by Angel Classics, this bilingual selection of Trakl’s poems and major prose pieces and prose poems is still the most comprehensive edition available to the English-language reader, who is enabled truly to get to grips with a central figure among the German Expressionist poets exhibiting what he once called ‘the universal nervousness of our century’.
‘This collection should finally win Trakl wider recognition. Alexander Stillmark’s selection of around 125 poems, including most of the major ones, is well designed, reflecting Trakl’s wish for individual poems to be printed within larger cycles, and the translations themselves are accurate, unfailingly thoughtful and often very moving.’ – Jeremy Adler, London Review of Books