I’ve known this poet for a long time, and appreciate the sincere depth of his melancholic insight. His works wreak of existential despair, and bare the same oppressive mark of despondency that plagued Confessional poets such as Plath and Sexton and Berryman.
I would warn anyone who would read Rilke’s works to do so in small doses. His poetic darkness isn’t the kind of darkness we see reflected in works such as Bauldelaire's Les Fleurs du mal (Flowers of Evil). No … Rilke’s darkness is dangerously close to suicidal reflection and flirts with despair’s menacing onslaught (Baudelaire’s darkness is merely that of audacity).
With that said, I will say that I love this poet. In July I composed a list of my top 20 favorite poets, Rilke was my fifth. The poem below (Duino Elegy #9) I carry in my wallet …
Duino Elegy #9
Why, when this span of life might be fleeted away