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Second Space: New Poems Paperback – August 23, 2005

4.8 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The title's second space comprises heaven and hell, which have "vanished forever"; without them the blessed cannot "meet salvation" and the damned "find suitable quarters." In mourning, the poet exhorts: "Let us implore that it be returned to us,/ That second space." The Nobel laureate, who died this past summer in Kraków at 93, is preoccupied in this collection with establishing that space through words, but also finds it in carnality and in "the unattainable Now." The opening section of summative short lyrics on themes familiar from late Milosz (memory, salvation, place) is followed by four long poems. "Father Severinus" is an eponymous 11-poem dramatic monologue of a priest (who shares one of the names of medieval philosopher Boethius) in whom there is "only a hope of hope." Next comes "Treatise on Theology" ("A young man couldn't write a treatise like this,/ Though I don't think it is dictated by fear of death"), followed by "Apprentice," a beautiful autobiography in verse (with extensive prose annotations by Milosz) and finally a stunning, short "Orpheus and Eurydice": "His lyre was silent and in his dream he was defenseless./ He knew he must have faith and he could not have faith./ And so he would persist, for a very long time,/ Counting his steps in a half-wakeful torpor." The terrors, torpors and partial redemptions of this collection feel wholly earned.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* The last collection that the late Nobel laureate himself prepared for publication shows him wrestling with faith and disbelief, sin and redemption, death and immortality. Two of its five parts contain very religiously concerned sequences. In the poems of part 2, "Father Severinus," a priest weighs church history and his own history: "Can I tell them: there is no Hell," he asks, "when they learn on earth what Hell is?" Part 33, in Milosz's own voice, is a "Treatise on Theology" that eventually acknowledges that, although it is his "duty as a poet [to] not flatter popular imaginings," he still desires to keep faith with Our Lady at Fatima and Lourdes. If the tributary sequence to his great forebear and inspiration, Oscar Milosz (1877-1939), seems more secular, yet at its heart are his uncle's poetic anticipation of Einsteinian relativity, which allows for the initial creative act of God, and comparison of his uncle to the great mystic Emmanuel Swedenborg. One of the short poems of part 1 expresses what is perhaps the most certain conviction in the book, that "if there is no God," a man is still "not permitted to sadden his brother / By saying that there is no God." This is a great last book. Ray Olson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 102 pages
  • Publisher: Ecco; 1st edition (August 23, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060755245
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060755249
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.3 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #993,471 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Robin Friedman HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 9, 2005
Format: Hardcover
"Second Space" is a collection of thirty-two poems on religious themes by Czeslaw Milosz (1911 -- 2004) written when the poet was in his 90s. The poems are heavily autobiographical in tone, meditative, and reflective. They deal with Milosz' struggle for religious, and in particular Catholic, faith in a world of secularism, mechanism, and suffering. They also describe the conflict in Milosz' own life between the call to the religious life and the lure of the world, with its natural beauty, and human sexuality. Milosz tries to reconcile the tensions among these two polarities.

The book is dense and richly detailed with allusions to Polish poets, to Milosz' relatives, particularly to his cousin Oscar Milosz (1877-1939) a French poet and diplomat, and to the mystical thinkers Jacob Boehme and Emmanuel Swedenborg, who have deeply influenced Milosz and his approach to religious questions.

The book is divided into five parts. The first part consists of a series of short poems discussing the poet's struggle for religious meaning. In many of these poems, Milosz revisits and reflects upon his life. The title of the book "Second Space" derives from the first poem of the collection in which Milosz laments the difficulty of conceiving of a "second space" in our modern world -- the space of both heaven and hell. Milosz writes in a clear style with many striking figures and phrases. Thus, he concludes his poem, "The Old Women" with the benediction: "May the day of your death not be a day of hopelessness,/ but of trust in the light that shines through earthly forms."

The second part of the book is a series of eleven interior monologues by "Father Severinus," who describes himself in the first poem as "a priest without faith".
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Nobel laureate Czeslaw Milosz'first collection of poetry publiblished since his death this past August continues to reveal the man as perhaps the 20th century's greatest poet. Students of literature familiar with his work marvel at the depth of his insight into the human conditions most challenging quandaries.His range of experience...in formative political, philosophical and religious movements of our modern-segueing-into-Post Modern age of Anxiety and violence...is nothing short of astounding. His artistic expression thereof,comprises genius.

SECOND SPACE resonates with profundity. Yet Milosz'art is astonishingly void of linguistic pyrotechnics or artifice. The erudition of Eliot...or Dante himself...is manifest without recourse to numbingly recondite metaphor,scholarship or ars- gratias-artist machinery.This"poet for all seasons"is startlingly straight-forward;lyrically"simple".Like reprise of St.Augustine's CONFESSIONS[or his own(1995)FACING the RIVER], Milosz directly states intention to remember with honor;and...in PRAYERful acknowledgement and humility...if possible, RECOVER the
source and ultimate respite of Mankind's humanity. TRUTH...peace and salvation; or condign damnation...is the province and provenance of THE SECOND SPACE.

Challenging the epigones(& tenth-rate homies of the PM Press)of Nietzsche and hack-Heideggerians,Milosz replies to the brazen, self-POSSESSED;self-apotheosizing nihilists foreseen by Dostoyevsky:
"IF THERE IS NO GOD,NOT EVERYTHING IS PERMITTED TO MAN/ HE IS STILL HIS BROTHER'S KEEPER/AND HE IS NOT PERMITTED TO SADDEN HIS BROTHER,BY SAYING THERE IS NO GOD(p.5)."

Spiritually luminous,lyrically elegant poem-after-poems rebuke: Scientism [p.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is the first book of poetry I have read by Milosz. He seems to read my mind. He is as much philosopher in his deep thinking as poet. Needless to say I am now hooked and will hunt down everything he has written. For honesty, beauty of human spirit, deepness of thought, I hold Milosz in a class of his own. Thank heavens I found him so I know what to read all winter!
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Milosz is a master of the craft. This collection published posthumously reminds us all that he richly deserved the Nobel Prize. How many poets can we point to that were writing after the age of 90? Milosz is humble about his perceptions of the world but his horizon is vast--enough to take in both faith and doubt in the same work. Of very special note in the collection is the poem "Eyes."

"My most honorable eyes, you are not in the best of shape.
I receive from you an image less than sharp, . . . "

"Eyes" is a poem of depth and true insight, which tells us something about a way of looking at the world as one moves on in life, "away from the fairgrounds of the world." There is an inner life, a deep inner truth which takes in all. It is a vision at once mystical and secular.

Milosz is a master, straddling eras and cultures. What can a 90-plus-year-old poet tell us about sexuality and desire? Amazing things--revelations, truly. But don't expect the cheap sensuality of popular culture.

Milosz and his poems have endured throughout our lives and will remain with us for a very long time. In Second Space he opens up a space that is rich and exciting.
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