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Herbert (1924–1998) lived to witness his hometown of Lwów, Poland, occupied by the Soviets in 1939, the Nazis in 1941, and the Soviets again in 1944. This exposure to systematic and violent oppression awakened in Herbert a protective and motivating skepticism that pervades all his poetry: "If you put trust in your five senses/ the world contracts into a hazelnut." This impeccably, newly translated and edited volume finds Herbert, strongly anticommunist throughout his life, determined to resist the reduction of the human to anything easily measured, manipulated and forgotten, even if history keeps reminding us that "only our dreams have not been humiliated." Tender, wary, melancholy and wry, the poems visit ideas of redemption as one might visit a grave site, i.e., knowing that what you seek can only be experienced in the heart and mind. If one attempts through poetry to "offer to the betrayed world / a rose," Herbert's world-weary, tragicomic alter-ego, Mr. Cogito—one of last century's most memorable poetic personages–warns us that the gesture will probably go unnoticed, especially in an age when even "the temple of freedom/ has been turned into a flea market." Finally, the work of this powerful master of 20th-century literature is all in one place. (Feb.)Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.