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New and Collected Poems: 1931-2001 Paperback – March 25, 2003

4.8 out of 5 stars 23 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

"More clever than you, I learned my century, pretending I knew a method for forgetting pain." There are few superlatives left for Milosz's work, but this enormous volume, with its portentous valedictory feel, will have reviewers firing up their thesauri nationwide. Born in Lithuania 90 years ago, Milosz published his first volume in Poland at age 22 and, after leftist activity in the '30s (forced underground under Hitler), defected in 1951 while working for the Polish consulate in Paris. After emigrating to the U.S. in 1960 and settling in as a professor of Slavic languages and literature at Berkeley (whence his books continued to issue), Milosz won the Nobel Prize in 1980. More books of verse attempting to come to grips with the 20th century followed, and Milosz enjoys an enormous, and deserved, reputation here, well-served by Milosz and Robert Hass's many co-translations of the poems, which make up the bulk of the book. (Other translators include Robert Pinsky and Peter Dale Scott.) Worth the price of admission alone is a full collection's worth of new work, taken from the Polish volume To ("This" in English) published last year, and superior to 1998's very uneven Road-Side Dog. The odd rhyming hexameter of "A Run" is typical here, taking us on dreams of flying, and back, in the last stanza, to the present: "I'm unkindly greeted by this awakened state./ During the day, on my cane, asthmatic, I creep./ But the night sees me off at the traveler's gate,/ And there, as at the outset, the world is new and sweet." Through the many horrors chronicled in this book, that renewal is a perpetual promise.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

As complete a representation of the Nobel prize winner's work as you are likely to find.
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 800 pages
  • Publisher: Ecco; Reprint edition (March 25, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060514485
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060514488
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.6 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #210,548 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This collection of poetry is pure transcendence. I was amazed with the quality of these poems--how they were selected and arranged--as well as the translations (Hass). Were these poems actually written in a language other than English? It does not seem so here. I couldn't imagine even the slightest nuance or reverberation of langauge lost in this work.
I highly recommend this volume. It seems more logical than previous Milosz collections, and the poems here make it clear that his Nobel Prize in Literature was well-deserved. Milosz is a prophet and soothsayer of the modern era. And with this collection, despite its price, each poem is economically precise and wise; there is no monetary value that could estimate the value of this superb collection.
The most interesting aspect of this volume is recognizing familiar Milosz poems juxtaposed with his latest work (2000). His latest work has the depth of lived experience and a maturity of patient observation of the human condition. Its strength lies in its approach to elemental themes: growing older, mortality, the trials of love and war, the purity of faith's optimism.
This book is a "must have."
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Format: Hardcover
After September 11th, I, a formerly avid reader, could no longer read anything but news, dreadful news. A lifelong subscriber to the New Yorker, I picked up an issue which magically opened to a poem by Milosz. I think it was the first or second issue that followed the bombings.
The poem provided one of those rare moments where one feels transformed by words, where life is worth living again because someone said something so beautifully that it was again worth it to continue on.
I don't even know if Milosz wrote that poem specifically in response to what happened on September 11th; surely he saw greater horrors in Poland than we can even imagine. Yet ever since, his words have granted me peace, not only from the fear of annihilation through disaster, but from the ultimate annihilation of death.
I also love that he's still writing at ninety. I love how, against all odds, he decided to fall the way of faith.
I read one of his poems each night, like a prayer, like a song.
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Format: Paperback
Milosz's poetry has a kind of energy that makes you want to shout on a rooftop: read this book. Any poet of any stature writes poems that fail to rise to the level of masterpieces, but in this book of 750 pages they are few and far between. The translator deserves much credit for these poem read as if they were originally written in English.

I used to think that Paul Celan captured the horror of war torn Europe the best, but Milosz now wins the title. The first books of this collection are harrowing and wistful.

The books written from California and France take a more metaphysical tone but never fail to be touching and humane.

The most recent poems detailing growing old are often funny but always reminiscent of just how much he has paid for growing up during wartime.

Shakespeare and Milosz had their fingers on the pulse of the human condition and have created poems that will truly last forever.

I recommend this book even to people who do not normally read poetry. It has changed me--- for the better.
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Format: Paperback
It is difficult often to take to heart a poet in translation. It is difficult too for the modern reader to focus on a Poet who does not dwell in his own subjective consciousness, and does not have 'I' at the heart of his world of perception. For these reasons it took me time to 'get into' these poems but once I did I felt in the presence of a specially wonderful world of poetry, an especially rich and observant sensibility. The 'wake- up' poem for me was one of Milosz's most famous, 'Campo dei Fiori'. In this poem Milosz compares the square in Florence in which Giordano Bruno was burned with the square in Warsaw close to the burning Warsaw Ghetto. He richly details the life which goes on all around in the two squares, and the indifference of all to the great suffering.
"Someone will read as moral
that the people of Rome or Warsaw
haggle, laugh, make love
as they pass by martyrs' pyres.
Someone else will read
of the passing of things human,
of the oblivion
born before the flames have died."
In this same collection Milosz has a set of three small remarkable poems one on Hope, one on Faith, and one on Love.
"Love means to learn to look at yourself
The way one looks at distant things
For you are only one thing among many.
And whoever sees that way heals his heart,
Without knowing it from various ills-
A bird and a tree say to him. Friend.

Then he wants to use himself and things,
So that they stand in the glow of ripeness.
It doesn't matter whether he knows what he serves.
Who serves best doesn't always understand.'

Milosz wrote poetry for seventy years, and his poems line by line do not cease to surprise. He shows an astonishing combination of intellect and feeling.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Poetry is inspired by and appreciated by every human emotion, even negative ones like anger and resentment, but whatever the causes they are not always manifestly apparent in the spontaneity of words that this book abundantly exemplifies. Whether Czeslaw Milosz was inspired by suffering or by the celebration of its alleviation, or a superposition of both, this collection represents his best, and some of the best of poems now in print. And by the best in poetry one means those poems that provoke the strongest and greatest variety of emotions. Laurel leaves therefore go to those poets whose poems allow a hyper-proliferation of interpretations; whose poems strongly perturb readers out of their conceptual and emotional equilibrium.

A reader could perhaps extract a slice of twentieth-century history form the poems of Milosz, but he cautions poets to not yield to the temptation to become reporters. Milosz wants poets to "contemplate the things of the world as they are without illusion', but whether he did so in his poetry is to a large degree irrelevant. All that matters is the beauty of his poetry and its propensity to cause a neuronal riot in the minds of its readers.

And indeed, this collection of poems just precisely that, for Milosz speaks of the earth's happiness as being terrible. He speaks for the need of living more than one life in order to decipher its sufferings and probe its laws. He scolds the mob for having laid ashes to Giordano Bruno, and those who give up hope. He exalts men who are small but who produce great works.

And Milosz is not hesitant to receive messages from "a world that is bright, beautiful, warm and free", and to speak of the artistry of the sun and a poem called the Earth.
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