From the Publisher
“[Brodsky's] great achievement is to have put back into our own poetic tradition the richness and gaiety of allusion and the sheer learning that most present-day poets in England and America are too inhibited even to try for. It's a relief to read again a poetic language that is not 'ordinary,' that dogs and cats could hardly be expected to understand, but that still further enriches the tradition of Eliot and Auden.” John Bayley, The New York Times Book Review
“This is philosophical poetry, bearing the mark of what Goethe considered the highest stage in the spiritual development of the individual, which he called 'Respect.' It is a poetry at two poles of human existence: love as it is lived and suffered through, and death almost tasted and feared. . . . As a defense against despair, we have the oeuvre of a man wholly concentrated on his poetry.” Czeslaw Milosz, The New York Review of Books
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
An autumnal mood pervades these verses from the exiled Soviet poet and Nobel laureate. ``Life is the sum of trifling motions,'' observes Brodsky. In ironic, well-made lyrics he broods on being middle-aged and measures the abyss between ideals and reality. The pointlessness of existence is conveyed in his description of the Earth: ``A sphere in space without markers/ spins and spins.'' Some poems are political; ``The Berlin Wall Tune'' wickedly lampoons the regimented mentality that holds up the Iron Curtain. Brodsky experiments with a variety of forms: ``Twenty Sonnets to Mary Queen of Scots,'' ``Lithuanian Nocturne,'' a carol, philosophical dialogues, vignettes of a damp, wintry Venice, a Baltic blizzard, a Polar expedition. New poems are intermixed with the poet's translations of his verses written during the past 14 years. (July)
Nobel Prize-winner Brodsky is one of the Soviet Union's most distinguished exiles, and evidently the experience has affected him deeply. Having ``munched the bread of exile: . . . stale and warty,'' he knows that ``every thing has a limit;/ . . . for despair, it is memory.'' Indeed, the sense of loss is pervasive, as is the search for permanence. In the remarkable ``Lithuanian Nocturne,'' which finds the poet's specter crossing oceans to visit his confrere Thomas Venclova, Brodsky may see poetry's realm as ``the kingdom of air,'' but his poems are in fact dense with accumulated detail, as if to reassure him that ``nothing has changed here.'' Brodsky's first collection since A Part of Speech ( LJ 8/80 ) , this volume contains previously uncollected works dating from 1968 (e.g., the 1400-line ``Gorbunov and Gorchakov'') but written mostly in this decade. Essential. Barbara Hoffert, ``Library Journal''