René Karl Wilhelm Johann Josef Maria Rilke, better known as Rainer Maria Rilke, was a Bohemian-Austrian poet and novelist. He is "widely recognized as one of the most lyrically intense German-language poets". He wrote both verse and highly lyrical prose. Several critics have described Rilke's work as "mystical". His writings include one novel, several collections of poetry and several volumes of correspondence in which he invokes images that focus on the difficulty of communion with the ineffable in an age of disbelief, solitude and anxiety. These themes position him as a transitional figure between traditional and modernist writers.
Rilke travelled extensively throughout Europe and, in his later years, settled in Switzerland – settings that were key to the genesis and inspiration for many of his poems. While Rilke is most known for his contributions to German literature, over 400 poems were originally written in French and dedicated to the canton of Valais in Switzerland.