Collected Poems, 1931-1987

Overview

To find my home in one sentence, concise, as if hammered in metal. No to enchant anybody. Not to earn a lasting name in posterity. An unnamed need for order, for rhythm, for form, which three words are opposed to chaos and nothingness.
— Czeslaw Milosz

Author Biography:

Czeslaw Milosz was born in Lithuania in 1911. His books of poetry in English include The Collected Poems, 1931-1987, Unattainable Earth, The ...

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Overview

To find my home in one sentence, concise, as if hammered in metal. No to enchant anybody. Not to earn a lasting name in posterity. An unnamed need for order, for rhythm, for form, which three words are opposed to chaos and nothingness.
— Czeslaw Milosz

Author Biography:

Czeslaw Milosz was born in Lithuania in 1911. His books of poetry in English include The Collected Poems, 1931-1987, Unattainable Earth, The Separate Notebooks, Provinces, Bells in Winter, and Selected Poems, all published by The Ecco, Press. He is a member of the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters and was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1980.

"The core of the major themes of Milosz's poetry is the unbearable realization that a human being is not able to grasp his experience, and the more that time separates him from this experience, the less become his chances to comprehend it."--Joseph Brodsky.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Milosz's stature as a poet is confirmed and enhanced by this massive volume, which brings together new translations, new poems and generous selections from previous verse collections. In the dark, symbolic lyrics of the 1930s, and in his cry of agony through the Nazi years, the Polish-born Nobel laureate snatches shards of hope from the desolate wasteland called Western civilization. His satiric postwar commentaries cut through Cold War hypocrisy as he contemplates life in Poland and in the U.S., where he emigrated. The redeeming power of love, the fleetingness of time are refracted through the tragedy of the 20th century in verses poised on the abyss. In the sweet, aching music of his philosophical poems from the California years, Milosz embraces a world he still loves but cannot fully grasp. Poems written during 1985-87, elegaic and celebratory, stare calmly at death. This immensely rewarding volume spans the full measure of a remarkable poetic achievement. (April)
Library Journal
Nobel Prize winner Milosz here includes most works from his four books of poetry available in English, plus 50 pages of new poems and numerous older poems never before translated, yet excludes poems not translated to his satisfaction. Still, it is gratifying to have assembled in a single volume the bulk of Milosz's remarkable art. The volume allows us to see how that art has evolved, how the weighty symbolism of the early poems gave way, by the 1940s, to the limpid, even cerebral voice we have come to associate with Milosz. If the new poems seem less despairing, it may be that Milosz feels he has fulfilled the poet's task: ``Let him never look straight up at the sun/ or he will lose the memory of things he has seen.'' Milosz has lost nothing, giving us poems ``Derived from people, but also from radiance, heights.'' Barbara Hoffert, ``Library Journal''
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780880011747
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 7/1/1990
  • Edition description: 1st ed
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 528
  • Product dimensions: 6.12 (w) x 9.25 (h) x 1.32 (d)

Read an Excerpt

ARTIFICER

Burning, he walks in the stream of flickering letters, clarinets,
machines throbbing quicker than the heart, lopped-off heads, silk
canvases, and he stops under the sky

and raises toward it his joined clenched fists.

Believers fall on their bellies, they suppose it is a monstrance that
shines,

but those are knuckles, sharp knuckles shine that way, my friends.

He cuts the glowing, yellow buildings in two, breaks the walls into
motley halves;
pensive, he looks at the honey seeping from those huge
honeycombs:
throbs of pianos, children's cries, the thud of a head banging against
the floor.
This is the only landscape able to make him feel.

He wonders at his brother's skull shaped like an egg,
every day he shoves back his black hair from his brow,
then one day he plants a big load of dynamite
and is surprised that afterward everything spouts up in the
explosion.
Agape, he observes the clouds and what is hanging in them:
globes, penal codes, dead cats floating on their backs, locomotives.

They turn in the skeins of white clouds like trash in a puddle.
While below on the earth a banner, the color of a romantic rose,
flutters,
and a long row of military trains crawls on the weed-covered
tracks.

Wilno, 1931
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