Road-side Dog

Road-side Dog

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by Czeslaw Milosz
     
 

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"I went on a journey in order to acquaint myself with my province, in a two-horse wagon with a lot of fodder and a tin bucket rattling in the back. The bucket was required for the horses to drink from. I traveled through a country of hills and pine groves that gave way to woodlands, where swirls of smoke hovered over the roofs of houses, as if they were on fire,

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Overview

"I went on a journey in order to acquaint myself with my province, in a two-horse wagon with a lot of fodder and a tin bucket rattling in the back. The bucket was required for the horses to drink from. I traveled through a country of hills and pine groves that gave way to woodlands, where swirls of smoke hovered over the roofs of houses, as if they were on fire, for they were chimneyless cabins; I crossed districts of fields and lakes. It was so interesting to be moving, to give the horses their rein, and wait until, in the next valley, a village slowly appeared, or a park with the white spot of a manor in it. And always we were barked at by a dog, assiduous in its duty. That was the beginning of the century; this is its . I have been thinking not only of the people who lived there once but also of the generations of dogs accompanying them in their everyday bustle, and one night-I don't know where it came from-in a pre-dawn sleep, that funny and tender phrase composed itself: a road-side dog." --Road-Side Dog

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Editorial Reviews

Los Angeles Times Richard Eder
A valorous and beautiful work . . . There are poems as haunting as any he has written. A delightful paperback edition of Milosz's poetry collection-a "valorous and beautiful work
The New Republic Jaroslaw Anders
Nobody tells the story of this age better than Czeslaw Milosz . . . Road-side Dog is delightful.
The New York Times Richard Bernstein
An elusive as well as allusive work . . . A pleasure.
San Francisco Chronicle Christopher Merrill
An end-of-the-century diary from one of the century's most important poets.
Library Journal
Alternatively playful and brooding, this collection of Mil/osz's "wandering thoughts"--over 140 journal-like mini-essays and a handful of fables and poems--probes the moral significance "of the many-shapedness of earthly things." A "cold weighing on a balance" of gains and losses and "dark thoughts" springing out of "doubts, turmoil, and despair" search for "a set of words" to capture the essence of "the horror discovered in this century." The 87-year-old "setter of words" and 1980 Nobel laureate bears witness to "the struggle of life" with human-centered, compassionate vision. Out of the "labyrinth of his mind," starting point for a difficult journey to a "country of dreams," comes contemplation of humanistic value "in a demonic century." In a notebook of the soul, Milosz's hard-won, prayerlike meditation soars. The work of this Lithuanian-born Polish poet has enriched civilization with an unwavering allegiance to sanity and truth.--Frank Allen, Northampton Community Coll., Tannersville, PA
Kirkus Reviews
The great poet explores a miscellany of topics in miniature pieces of finely crafted prose and poetry. Milosz, the Polish emigre writer of The Captive Mind (1951) and many works of poetry, is now 87 years old. He was a professor of Slavic language and literature at the University of California, Berkeley, from 1961 until 1980, when a Nobel Prize for Literature freed him of the need to hold a steady job. His output of poetry and essays has been prodigious; Road-Side Dog is his 24th book in English, and we have reason to be grateful for it. The book, brief and pithy, is a pleasure. Milosz turns his agile mind to whatever crosses its path. The upshot is a wealth of insights on a variety of topics. The task of poetry and the standing of the poet are favorite themes here. Milosz is inclined away from the avant-garde and toward the classical, toward the honing of the language of his predecessors: "I was perfectly aware of how little of the world is scooped up by the net of my clauses and phrases. Like a monk, sentencing himself to ascesis, tormented by erotic visions, I would take shelter in rhythm and the order of syntax, because I was afraid of my chaos." He is also concerned in this collection with old age and memory ("one can write a few truly good things only by paying with the deformation of one's life"), with history ("Images more terrible than those invented by the phantasy"), and with the fleeting pleasures of life. What will impress many readers, though, is probably the remarkable compression of much wisdom in these pages, a wisdom that is as unpretentious as it is authentic. Milosz has a gift for acute observation and the ability to formulate what he understands insimple and beautiful prose. Though a modest and understated work, the poet's generosity of spirit is unmistakable.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780374526238
Publisher:
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publication date:
11/29/1999
Edition description:
First Farrar, Straus and Giroux Paperbac
Pages:
224
Product dimensions:
5.70(w) x 6.50(h) x 0.70(d)

Read an Excerpt

"I went on a journey in order to acquaint myself with my province, in a two-horse wagon with a lot of fodder and a tin bucket rattling in the back. The bucket was required for the horses to drink from. I traveled through a country of hills and pine groves that gave way to woodlands, where swirls of smoke hovered over the roofs of houses, as if they were on fire, for they were chimneyless cabins; I crossed districts of fields and lakes. It was so interesting to be moving, to give the horses their rein, and wait until, in the next valley, a village slowly appeared, or a park with the white spot of a manor in it. And always we were barked at by a dog, assiduous in its duty. That was the beginning of the century; this is its end. I have been thinking not only of the people who lived there once but also of the generations of dogs accompanying them in their everyday bustle, and one night-I don't know where it came from-in a pre-dawn sleep, that funny and tender phrase composed itself: a road-side dog."-Road-Side Dog

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