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A Book of Luminous Things: An International Anthology of Poetry 1st Edition

4.6 out of 5 stars 59 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 073-1360933430
ISBN-10: 0156005743
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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Nobel laureate Milosz states in his introduction that the purpose of this personal and eclectic collection is to present poetry that is "short, clear, readable, and...realistic, that is, loyal toward reality and attempting to describe it as concisely as possible." And for the most part, he has succeeded. The poems have a clarity and immediacy that would appeal to even the most poetry-averse reader. Most of the selections are from classical Chinese and 20th-century American and European (primarily Eastern European, Scandinavian, and French) poets. The poems are grouped by intriguing headings ("The Moment," "The Secret of a Thing," "A Woman's Skin"), and Milosz has written brief prefaces to many of them, creating an unusual sense of dialog between editor and reader. "My intention," says Milosz, "is not so much to defend poetry...but rather, to remind readers that for some very good reasons it may be of importance today." This refreshing and wise anthology is recommended for all collections.?Christine Stenstrom, Brooklyn P.L., N.Y.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

This is the second international poetry anthology to be published in as many months. The first, The Vintage Book of Contemporary World Poetry , is organized geographically. Milosz, who, naturally, appears in the Vintage collection, has approached his work as anthologizer from a far more personal and thematic perspective. His introduction is passionate and enlivening as he guides readers toward his vision of poems as forms of enchantment, then his clustering of poems under such alluring headings as "Epiphany," "The Secret of a Thing," "The Moment," "People among People," "Woman's Skin," and "Nonattachment" deepens and extends the readers' understanding of his poetics and the poems he has so lovingly chosen. Milosz remains a vital presence throughout the volume. There are plenty of American poets here, quite a few Chinese poets, and a diverse scattering of Europeans, but place of origin isn't as significant, ultimately, as place of arrival: a poem that speaks to everyone in every land. Donna Seaman --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 344 pages
  • Publisher: Mariner Books; 1 edition (April 1, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0156005743
  • ISBN-13: 978-0156005746
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (59 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #17,867 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
To call this excellent collection of poems an "international" anthology is a bit presumptuous. The bulk of the poems were written by poets whose native language is American (88), Chinese (53), Polish (35) or French (16). The selection, however, aptly reflects the geographical stations in the life of the Nobel Prize winner of 1980, Czeslaw Milosz. Born in 1911, he lived in Poland until 1951 when he emigrated to France. In 1960, invited by the University of California, he moved to Berkeley where he lived and worked until his death in August 2004. During the Second World War he lived in Warsaw, writing for the underground presses - which probably explains why only one German poem (by Rilke) appears in this book. To put this in perspective: poetry in German ranks on the same level as Inuit poetry here, one poem each.

But never mind. After swallowing my national cultural pride, I admit that "A Book of Luminous Things" is my favorite anthology of poetry. By a wide margin. Milosz did not simply compile a "best of" collection; he created a very personal, intimate book. The poems collected in this anthology are as much about the joy of living as they are about the awareness that old age may bring. What they teach are attention to the particular and appreciation of the transitory. Milosz's proposition for the collection was to present poems, "whether contemporary or a thousand years old, that are, with few exceptions, short, clear, readable and, to use a compromised term, realist, that is, loyal toward reality and attempting to describe it as concisely as possible. Thus they undermine the widely held opinion that poetry is a misty domain eluding understanding."

Milosz titled the last chapter of his anthology "History.
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Format: Hardcover
A brilliant collection of poems by scores of poets from various countries and various eras. A book that will be well-thumbed by the peripatetic reader who moves from form to form, and from image to image. Milosz's commentary is also poetic. Sometimes he simply provides facts about a poem or a poet, but usually he frames the poem, as if hanging a border to concentrate the qualities of each poem in the reader's eye
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Format: Paperback
I have ordered this book for my college English classes for the past four years. Each time I browse through it I find something new, something valuable. I do indeed keep a copy in my car's glovebox. I pull it out if I find myself stuck somewhere and I read a poem or two.
The selections are indeed eclectic and span the globe. They are loosely arranged by theme and my international students assure me that the translations are good and truly reflect the spirit of the originals.
I recommend this highly to people who love poetry and to those who think they might someday at least like it.
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Format: Paperback
I've never seen an anthology that is such an act of beauty in itself.
The selection of poems and commentary support a beautiful range of poems that are fresh & vital, brief & accessible. I can imagine this used to turn people on to poetry, as these poems always hit a nerve and are never obscure or bland. It is not comprehensive in a sense of poetic history, but it serves well as a collection for inspiration & meditation which will neither daunt the person new to poetry or insult the intellect of the scholar.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I know there are mixed reviews out there regarding the collection. However, for me this collection was an introduction to many artists, that were unknown or less familiar to me. I probably would never have stumbled upon works by Anna Swir, Judah Al-Harizi, Wilsa Szymborska, or Tu Fu, thumbing through books, on my own .... and this collection (happily) brought them to my attention. Additionally, Milosz's small comments introducing each poem are appreciated, and add to the experience of the poems,for me. Good poems are good poems, so of course, there are the more familiar phenoms, such as Whitman, Mary Oliver, and Robert Morgan (whose simplicity of writing in the poem Bellrope, belies,just how difficult it is to write like that). I find no fault in such a gathering. I thoroughly enjoy the works. This copy is a gift, for I won't part with my own.
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Format: Hardcover
I can't say emphatically enough that this book has only the very best poetry, no junk, no rants, no cusswords, no harangues, just wise minds speaking through their poetic voices.

If a poem has ever changed your life...

If you write poetry...

If you read poetry...

If you want to write poetry...

If you are curious about how people think about things...

If you want to understand people better...

read this International Anthology of Poetry skillfully edited by Czeslaw Milosz.

While you may not feel connected to every poet, you are sure to discover poets and poetic thoughts that make you feel understood, perhaps for the first time.

Enjoy! Enjoy! Enjoy!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The poetry in this diverse volume lives up to the lofty title on the book cover. Indeed, the poetry therein is luminous. From Haiku and dead moths to drangonfly wings and Jeffers' hurt hawks, this anthology is great for any ocassion. I discovered it while traveling, and it proved a lovely travel companion. It made the trip especially memorable and much more endurable, in that the poetry unceasingly provided me opportunity to reflect on the human condition and elemental themes. The more interesting aspect of this anthology happens to accord with the editor's own writing philosophy--which focuses on celebrating the ordinary--to demonstrate that the world is imbued with poetic spirit in simple facts--simple happenings that may easily be overlooked by the distracted passerby. I recommend this volume to anyone, esp. the contributions of Herbert, Hass, Milosz, Jeffers, and Szymborska.
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