To Urania

Overview

Combining two books of verse that were first published in his native Russian, To Urania was Brodsky's third volume to appear in English. Published in 1988, the year after he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, this collection features pieces translated by the poet himself and others, as well as poems written originally in English.

Auden once characterized Brodsky as "a traditionalist . . . interested in what lyric poets of all ages have been interested in . . . encounters...

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Overview

Combining two books of verse that were first published in his native Russian, To Urania was Brodsky's third volume to appear in English. Published in 1988, the year after he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, this collection features pieces translated by the poet himself and others, as well as poems written originally in English.

Auden once characterized Brodsky as "a traditionalist . . . interested in what lyric poets of all ages have been interested in . . . encounters with nature . . . reflections upon the human condition, death, and the meaning of existence." Reading the poems in To Urania—by turns cerebral, caustic, comic, and celebratory—we appreciate firsthand a great lyric poet's variety and achievement.

The appear since A Part of Speech was published in 1980, this new volume includes many of the most important poems Brodsky has written in the last seven years, as well as work from earlier periods in his career.

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Editorial Reviews

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)
Library Journal
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''
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780374172534
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
  • Publication date: 9/1/1988
  • Pages: 184
  • Product dimensions: 6.18 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 0.91 (d)

Meet the Author

The poet, essayist, and playwright Joseph Brodsky (1940-96) came to the United States in 1972, an involuntary exile from the Soviet Union. He received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1987 and served as Poet Laureate of the United States in 1991 and 1992.

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