Ren? Maria Rilke was born in Prague on 4 December 1875 and died near Montreux in Switzerland, on 29 December 1926. The foremost lyric German poet of the 20th century, he is remembered primarily for his Duino Elegies, the Sonnets to Orpheus, the Neue Gedichte, the Buch der Bilder, the Stundenbuch, and the Cornet.
Although his mature poetry has been translated into many languages, his early poetry remains accessible only in the original German. This translation of the Larenopfer, or offerings to the Lares, the Roman household deities, are songs that Rilke sings to his hometown Prague and to his beloved Bohemia, short poems on the parks, fountains, churches, bridges and palaces of Prague, not forgetting Rabbi L?w?s legends, the Jewish cemetery, the Thirty Years? War and, of course, young love.
This cycle of 90 poems offers the reader a unique view into Rilke?s fascinating world, the turn-of-the-century atmosphere of Prague, then the third largest city in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Here a young German of the ruling bourgeoisie shows great appreciation for contemporary Czech literary works and enthusiasm for the cause of Czech cultural identity. The Larenopfer possesses not only literary merit but is also of considerable sociological and historical interest.