New Poems (1907-1908) represented a departure for Rilke from the traditional German lyric poetry of which he was then considered a master. Apparent in the poems is the influence of Rodin--for whom Rilke had worked--as well as other visual artists, including Hokusai, Cezanne, Van Gogh, and Picasso. Rilke forced language to extremes of subtlety and refinement that only now, in Stephen Cohn's translations, is being captured properly in English.
"Certainly Rilke has never 'moved' so naturally into another language as he seems to do [here]. The thing has a deceptive ease about it, as with all really remarkable achievements in the translation of poetry. Instead of feeling, as Robert Frost famously said, that poetry is what gets lost when a poem is translated, we feel that not only has Rilke emerged in English with his personality unaltered, but that something new has been added to English poetry itself." —John Bayley, from the introduction