Rilke: After the Fire (poem)
Rilke: After The Fire is a poem from Seamus Heaney's 2006 collection District and Circle. The poem is a translation of Rainer Maria Rilke's "Die Brandstätte", from the 1908 edition of Neue Gedichte. It recounts the morning after a fire which has consumed a home, leaving "emptiness behind / Scorched linden trees". When "the son of the place" appears on the scene, he uses a stick to drag "an out-of-shape old can or kettle" from the wreckage, and attempts to tell the others present about his loss. The poem concludes with his realising that "he [is] changed: a foreigner among them". There is one other Rilke translation in District and Circle called "Rilke: The Apple Orchard".
- The poem is set on the 2013-2014 International A-level syllabus for Literature in English by the Cambridge International Examinations board.
- Stephen Cohn adopts the same English title as Heaney in his translation of the poem. See: Rilke, Rainer Maria. Neue Gedichte / New Poems. Manchester: Carcanet, 1992, p199 (ISBN 978-1857547702). Others, such as Stanley Appelbaum, choose a title which is closer to the original German. See "The Scene of the Fire" in: Rilke, Rainer Maria. Ausgewählte Gedichte / Selected Poems. New York: Dover, 2011, p121-23. (ISBN 978-0486478616)