‘In April’ by Rainer Maria Rilke

The poem presented in this post is titled ‘In April’. Written by the celebrated Austrian poet Rainer Maria Rilke (1875–1926), it was first published in 1902, in the collection of poems The Book of Images (orig. Das Buch der Bilder).

Rainer Maria Rilke

Rilke was known and is still much appreciated for his way with words. Something always gets lost in translation, and that’s very noticeable in the available translations of Rilke’s poetry. His use of the German language is very lyrical, with rich imagery that creates vivid mental images, and is not always easy to translate into other languages. His works are also known to border on the mystical, often reflecting on the essential matters of life and death in a way that seems almost religious.

In the following poem, Rilke takes us to a rainy April day—and a moment in which the rain subsides and the sunshine breaks through. The reader is gently enveloped in stillness, made a participant in nature’s comforting slumbering silence.

The following translation is by Jessie Lamont, and below it you’ll find the German original, as well as a simple vocabulary exercise designed for ESL learners. 

Again the woods are odorous, the lark
Lifts on upsoaring wings the heaven gray
That hung above the tree-tops, veiled and dark,
Where branches bare disclosed the empty day.

After long rainy afternoons an hour
Comes with its shafts of golden light and flings
Them at the windows in a radiant shower,
And rain drops beat the panes like timorous wings.

Then all is still. The stones are crooned to sleep
By the soft sound of rain that slowly dies;
And cradled in the branches, hidden deep
In each bright bud, a slumbering silence lies.

Wieder duftet der Wald.
Es heben die schwebenden Lerchen
mit sich den Himmel empor, der unseren Schultern schwer war;
zwar sah man noch durch die Äste den Tag, wie er leer war,-
aber nach langen, regnenden Nachmittagen
kommen die goldübersonnten
neueren Stunden,
vor denen flüchtend an fernen Häuserfronten
alle die wunden
Fenster furchtsam mit Flügeln schlagen.

Dann wird es still. Sogar der Regen geht leiser
über der Steine ruhig dunkelnden Glanz.
Alle Geräusche ducken sich ganz
in die glänzenden Knospen der Reiser.


Match the following adjectives found in the poem with their synonyms:


  • sleeping, dormant
  • shining, glowing
  • naked, stripped; basic, simple
  • fearful, nervous
  • aromatic, fragrant, smelly

To check your answers, click here.

Cover image credit: Niklas Weiss on Unsplash

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