This collection of poems by Heinrich von Kleist (1777-1811) translated into modern English rhyming verse by Peter Raina will bring the stature of this contemporary of Goethe and Schiller into sharp focus and will reach a new readership of English speakers across the world.
The subjects treated in this anthology include reaction to major political events (particularly Napoleon’s incursions into German territory) and patriotic laudatory pieces as well as anti-military sentiments, down to shorter poems, especially the epigrams which explore everyday joys and tribulations.
Embarking on this challenging task of translation, the author was inspired by the thoughts of John Sparrow in his book "Great Poetry", Independent Essays: [words in poetry] ‘move us simply by their sound and through the appeal of rhythm and metre to the ear’.
Peter Raina was thus emboldened to replace the metre he found in the original with a new rhyme and rhythm in his English translation.
The effect is a fresh, arresting comment on issues in Kleist’s background often not so dissimilar from those we experience today.