Selected Poems

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Blessed is the nation that in the course of a century could give the world two poets of Czeslaw Milosz's and Zbigniew Herbert's scope. Doubly blessed is the English-reader, for in this volume he gets Zbigniew Herbert's work rendered by Czeslaw Milosz: like the poor, or better yet like nature herself, Polish genius takes care of its own.

This collection is bound for a much longer haul than any of us can anticipate. For Zbigniew Herbert's poetry adds to the biography of ...

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Overview

Blessed is the nation that in the course of a century could give the world two poets of Czeslaw Milosz's and Zbigniew Herbert's scope. Doubly blessed is the English-reader, for in this volume he gets Zbigniew Herbert's work rendered by Czeslaw Milosz: like the poor, or better yet like nature herself, Polish genius takes care of its own.

This collection is bound for a much longer haul than any of us can anticipate. For Zbigniew Herbert's poetry adds to the biography of civilization the sensibility of a man not defeated by the century that has been most thorough, most effective in dehumanization of the species. Herbert's irony, his austere reserve and his compassion, the lucidity of his lyricism, the intensity of his sentiment toward classical antiquity, are not just trappings of a modern poet, but the necessary armor--in his case well-tempered and shining indeed--for man not to be crushed by the onslaught of reality. By offering to his readers neither aesthetic norethical discount, this poet, in fact, saves them frorn that poverty which every form of human eviI finds so congenial. As long as the species exists, this book will be timely.

-- Joseph Brodsky

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780880010993
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 4/28/1986
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 140
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.35 (d)

Meet the Author

Zbigniew Herbert was born in Lwów, Poland, in 1924. In his late teens he fought in the under-ground resistance against the Nazis. Herbert studied law, economics, and philosophy at the universities of Krakow, Torun, and Warsaw. His books include Selected Poems, Report from the Besieged City and Other Poems, Mr Cogito, Still Life with a Bridle, The King of the Ants, Labyrinth on the Sea, and Collected Poems. He died in 1998.

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Read an Excerpt

Two Drops

No time to grieve for roses, when the forests are burning -- Slowacki

The forests were on fire --
they however
wreathed their necks with their hands
like bouquets of roses

People ran to the shelters --
he said his wife had hair
in whose depths one could hide

Covered by one blanket
they whispered shameless words
the litany of those who love

When it got very bad
they leapt into each other's eyes
and shut them firmly

So firmly they did not feel the flames
when they came up to the eyelashes

To the end they were brave
To the end they were faithful
To the end they were similar
like two drops
stuck at the edge of a face

Selected Poems. Copyright © by Zbigniew Herbert. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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