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Without End: New and Selected Poems Paperback – March 18, 2003

ISBN-13: 978-0374528614 ISBN-10: 0374528616 Edition: 1st

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Without End: New and Selected Poems + A Defense of Ardor: Essays + Unseen Hand: Poems
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux; 1st edition (March 18, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374528616
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374528614
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #679,173 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

As he left his native Poland and turned from the committed poetry of his "Generation 69" youth, Zagajewski began to infuse his work with a deep distrust of the darker potentials of language as a tool of recruitment, ready-made allegiance and/or retaliation. What remains, powerfully, is restitution and revelation; Zagajewski has picked up the mantle of mystical, Catholic Romanticism offered by Herbert and Milosz. Showcased here are the loose, abstract, dreamy lyrics that have become his trademark, the bulk of which are drawn from three previous U.S. releases: Tremor: Selected Poems (1985), Canvas (1991) and Mysticism for Beginners (1997). For Zagajewski, all cities are Lvov, the city his family fled, whose streets are now available to him only through remembrance and imagination. A symbol of superfluity ("There was always too much of Lvov"), of Romantic desire and the lost paradise which spurns, Lvov provides an ideal space into which the real world bleeds, and from whose confines one can reach the liberating vistas perceived by the unfettered mind. Such imaginative excesses, with their whimsical non-linearity and continual sway away from direct representational language, work best in the 48 new poems here when the poet's sense of humor prevents, particularly in translation, Romantic imagery from veering into sentiment when the speaker is able to ask facetiously, "But who could it have been,/ since the castle had been empty for so long,/ given up to bats and irony?/ Still everything seemed to indicate/ that someone was dying in the palace./ One couldn't overlook/ the signs of life." Readers won't be able to either. (Feb.)Forecast: The Paris-based Zagajewski, who teaches at the University of Houston every spring, is now eminent, well-reviewed, well-assigned and still makes excellent reading. This will be the Zagajewski most readers buy for the next few years, and the substantial amount of new work should ensure major prize contention.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Essayist, novelist, and poet Zagajewski (Mysticism for Beginners) was one of the most prolific voices of the Polish New Wave movement of the late 1960s. Consider these haunting lines from an early poem appearing here, which exemplify the quality of his work at the time: "I couldn't paint, my voice cracked/ I didn't pass the high school finals,/ I couldn't be an artist. They assigned me/ to the infantry." Zagajewksi has been living in exile in Paris since 1982, however, and the poems from the following decade are filled with absence and longing, the familiar re-created amidst the foreign. The new poems, which make up the first 60 pages of this book, seem to have lost their crispness and sense of urgency, and the imagery has become contrived: "it seems/ you're starting to make peace/ why not me?" It is unfortunate that this book lacks an introduction, which might have been useful in chronicling the surprising shifts in Zagajewski's work. Recommended only for larger collections, but keep in mind that this Polish exile teaches part of the year at the University of Houston. Rochelle Ratner, formerly with "Soho Weekly News," New York

Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Flounder on April 8, 2002
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a marvelous collection of poetry. It earns my highest recommendation. Zagajewski is one of the more interesting poets on the scene today.
This collection opens with "To See": "I had to see, and not to just know, to see clearly the sight and fires of a single world...my brethren in the shallow sand; the earth still turns above you...."
Other lovely poems are: "Dead Sparrow," "Speak Softly," "December," "Death of a Pianist," "Twenty Five Years," "The World's Prose," "Treatise on Emptiness," Try to Praise a Mutilated World," and "The Creation of the World."
Z's verse is economic and spare. His word craft creates deep images that are world-conscious, and they offer us a phenomenal awareness of ourselves. A good poet begins in metaphysical wonderment, and that is fulfilled here.
It seems that Z. looks past our blinking lids and bloodshot eyes to witness the barren cavity in which the human soul resides. And when that examination is found wanting in the discovery of spiritual emptiness, we look to the world and see ragged refugees on detoured paths to nowhere.
I also recommend: R. Hass, B. Collins, Z. Herbert, C. Milosz, R. Jeffers, S. Heaney, A. Rich, and W. Szymborska.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Martin H. Dickinson on March 4, 2006
Format: Paperback
Wow--this is really something. Zagajewski's work is terrific and this collection brings together poems from a number of this talented and insightful poet's works. If you want insight, irony, surprise and wit in your poetry, Zagajewski's really got it. My favorite is his his 11-line poem "The Soul."

We know we're not allowed to use your name.

We know you're inexpressible,

anemic, frail, and suspect . . .

But yes--the soul exists--refusing to go away. You know, poetry books these days can cost quite alot, and you find you've read through them in a sitting. I'm not really complaining--the price of a movie has gone up, too, and I never turn down going to a movie because of it. But this book is a huge value--278 pages of fantastic poems.

It's impossible to comment on the quality of the translations, given that I don't know Polish--but the fact that they are such good poetry even after translation says alot. Two of the translators, Benjamin Ivry and C.K. Williams are poets and Williams a Pulitzer Prize winner.

This is poetry of rare insight and power.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Thomas E. Defreitas on February 16, 2008
Format: Hardcover
The masterpiece of the volume is perhaps "To Go to Lvov," a poem that contains some bold strokes of language :

if lances of trees
-- of poplar and ash -- still breathe aloud
like Indians, and if streams mumble
their dark Esperanto, and grass snakes like soft signs
in the Russian language disappear
into thickets.

The poem called "Autumn" gives us a view not mellow or pastoral, but one which compares the season to death; more to the point, to an invading "Red Army" with "cold bayonets" and a "keen sickle."

In "You Are My Silent Brethren," addressed to the dead, we have these lines :

You'd think it would be easy, living.
All you need is a fistful of earth, a boat, a nest, a jail,
a little breath, some drops of blood, and longing.

Another poem asks, "What is salvation if there is no threat?"

Poets are depicted as "literary rats," "an atheist epoch's Benedictines, missionaries of easy despair" who are :

compensated in small, worthless gold coin,
and with the moment of bliss when metaphor's flame
welds two free-floating objects, when a hawk lands,
or a tax inspector makes the sign of the cross.

On a small scale, there is the poignant poem "Fruit," dedicated to Czeslaw Milosz, and of a quiet, sad magnificence. We will not quote from it, but will recommend it to the reader for its muted excellence.

There is much that is elegiac here (tributes to Joseph Brodsky, Zbigniew Herbert, Franz Schubert, and in many poems, the month of September), but there is also -- frequently -- the abrupt verbal startlement we associate with the comic.
Read more ›
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Format: Paperback
A beautiful, touching collection by a fine poet. Zagajewski is witty, humorous, intelligent. He is able to write personal poems without sentimentality. An example to learn from.
Here you can read his poem, "Self-Portrait":
[...]
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1 of 4 people found the following review helpful By kowaleon on September 25, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
the book was in great condition. brand new like it said. the shipping was kind of slow, but i wasn't really in a hurry to get it anyway. other than that this person was true to their product description.
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