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Across the Land and the Water: Selected Poems, 1964-2001

3.69  ·  Rating Details ·  159 Ratings  ·  26 Reviews
A publishing landmark—the first major collection of poems by one of the late twentieth century’s literary masters

German-born W. G. Sebald is best known as the innovative author of Austerlitz, the prose classic of World War II culpability and conscience that The Guardian called “a new literary form, part hybrid novel, part memoir, part travelogue.” Its publication put Sebal
Hardcover, 192 pages
Published March 27th 2012 by Random House (first published January 1st 2008)
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Parrish Lantern
Unlike a lot of people whose introduction to the writing of W.G. Sebald was through books such as Rings of Saturn, Austerlitz, or Vertigo, mine was through the Micropoems in Unrecounted, a slim volume of thirty three poems, with accompanying lithographs by Jan Peter Tripp. So when I saw this Selected poems at NetGalley my curiosity was piqued and I requested it wondering whether without the pictures the poetry featured would be as hermetic or whether the act of trying to match the image with the ...more
M. Sarki
Nov 26, 2013 M. Sarki rated it it was ok
Nothing much to say about this book other than Sebald's own wish to remembered for his prose. These bits were mostly just pen put to paper, a recording of words more reportage than anything resembling fine poetry.
The poems I liked best in this volume aren't the obscurely allusive ones, but rather the more apparently allusive ones: the ones that are lists, that are "found poems" (as Galbraith puts it), and also the images in some of the poems about cities and journeys. I like poems drawn from life and from texts, poems collaged together from bits and pieces from newspapers and historical snippets and things seen or overheard. "Donderdag," which quotes from a Dutch newspaper report about some murders in ...more
Dec 06, 2015 Laurent rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In 'Over het land en het water' zijn voor het eerst alle gedichten verzameld die tijdens Sebalds leven op verschillende plaatsen werden gepubliceerd in het Duits, met uitzondering van de boeken 'Nach der Natur' en 'Unerzählt'. Die aanvankelijke verzameling werd aangevuld met een keuze uit ongepubliceerde gedichten, gebaseerd op Sebalds nalatenschap. Met andere woorden: deze korte, maar oh zo krachtige bundel, is zo veel meer dan een 'leesuitgave', het is een literair bommetje. Maar in de eerste ...more
Aug 31, 2016 Andrew added it
Shelves: w-g-sebald, poetry
If Across the Land and Water had been a late '90s hip-hop album, it would have been called "W.G. Sebald: Da Resurrection," collecting odds and ends from his early career, post-mortem. And, q.v. Biggie on Born Again, it mixes outright bangers with a few half-thoughts, and it's nothing like his fully thought-out masterpieces. But it's still got that moody, archival, neurasthenic Sebald vibe I love so much, even if it is in a condensed and fragmented form.
Cooper Renner
Apr 14, 2012 Cooper Renner rated it it was amazing
Books of lyric poetry are very rarely 5 star books--it's simply too hard to write a first-rate lyric poem. But this is a collection of poems written over several decades--a selected poems--and Sebald was a rather astonishing writer. And, perhaps as much to the point, when one "compares a book against others of its type," this is clearly a superior collection. Austere, restrained, observant: not (Dickinson) generally likely to take the top of your head off, but still lovely in its way.
Sep 13, 2015 Leslie rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry, german

While I liked some of these poems very much, others were puzzling or incomprehensible to me -- my rating is an attempt to average out my responses. The sections I liked best were "Poemtrees" and "Across the Land and the Water"; "The Year Before Last" was the section I enjoyed least.

The two poems that appealed to me most were "Life is Beautiful" (from Poemtrees) and "New Jersey Journey" (from Across the Land and the Water).
Jun 12, 2014 Stephen rated it it was amazing
Sebald is kind a melancholy German version of Jorge Luis Borges. Like Borges, a fellow bibliophile, he was drawn to writing about arcane old books that almost nobody else reads anymore, or to topics (like firebombings in German memory, or the back roads of Corsica) that might be deliberately overlooked by a calculated amnesia. Like Borges, too, he was mostly known for his prose but was a killer poet.

His poems should be read with the notes at the end of this book, which are a fascinating look at
Apr 16, 2012 jeremy rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry, translation
known primarily for his nearly unclassifiable works of fiction, sebald also dabbled in the realm of poetry. across the land and the water features some ninety poems from four different collections spanning nearly forty years. as iain galbraith, the book's translator, points out in the introduction, many of sebald's poems had never previously been published, let alone translated. galbraith outlines the history and chronology of sebald's poetic writings, providing a much needed context not only fo ...more
Aug 28, 2016 Gill rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry
Maybe my expectations were too high of this book, having been bowled over by Sebald's prose.

The first two sections I found interesting rather than moving. It was helpful to have such detailed notes and introduction from the translator, though at times I found them too detailed. Some of these poems reminded me of TS Eliot, and had the unemotional sound of his poetry, and also the myriad of historical/literary etc references and connections of his poetry.

The final section 'The Year Before Last' i
World Literature Today
"Across the Land and the Water is a book of genuine substance. Not only is it an invaluable addition to Sebald’s existing corpus, it is, for those as yet unfamiliar with his work, a perfect point of entry." - George Messo, Al Khobar, Saudi Arabia

This book was reviewed in the September/October 2012 issue of World Literature Today. The full review can be read at the WLT website:
Apr 21, 2016 Jim rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry
These prose poems are full of historical, cultural, and place references. Although the translator's notes at the end of the book explain some of these references, many references are not explained, leaving this reader perplexed. I have read all of Sebald's novels, a collection of his essays, and his long narrative triptych poem "After Nature", so I am quite familiar with his body of work, but most of these poems elude me. I prefer poems that are more accessible, such as the poems of Billy ...more
Alex Stille
Poems that laid the groundwork for After Nature, sympathetically translated by Galbraith. Many of the poems are fragments, taken from Sebald's jottings on menus and hotel notepaper - there's a lightness here, but little in terms of unifying themes that his novels have. Would have been nice to have the German and translation in one volume.
Feb 01, 2014 Michelle rated it it was amazing
While not every poem in the collection could be rated five stars on its own, the collection as a whole contained enough of the sublime to rate a five. I found Molkerbastei, a recounting of a visit to Beethoven's house in Vienna, particularly haunting.
May 06, 2014 Attila rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
Poems about travel, nature, life. Some were great, others did not really touch me. I wish I could read these in German original. There is a detailed explanation of references and metaphors for each poem.
Mar 25, 2014 Lorri rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
The poems span almost four decades...ranging in substance. I found his poetry to be fascinating on many levels. From memories and their fleetingness to perceptions, Sebald illuminates the pages with his constant journey to seek answers, often tot he unanswerable.
This is more than just poetry. Way more. It is wandering. It is traveling. It is a lesson in history. In art. In language. It is almost photography. I dare say Sebald wasn't a poet. He did not write poems... he took pictures. And wrote them down.
Pavol Hardos
Apr 07, 2016 Pavol Hardos rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
File under: Travels, crossings, culture, visits, sights - melancholy of.
Also file under - brilliant.
Mar 14, 2012 Lysergius rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Although not Sebald's primary medium of expression these poems, some very short, capture the same haunting tone and ambiance as his prose. I am curious to see how they translate...

Sep 04, 2013 Keight rated it really liked it
Zöe Yu
Jan 23, 2016 Zöe Yu rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: german
It builds a poetic landscape of Germany. But I didn't find it that amazing. It is a pleasant yet gloomy reading.
Rob Manwaring
Mar 23, 2015 Rob Manwaring rated it liked it
Shelves: on-hold
Purchased on hols in rather marvellous bookshop in Port Elliot. And because - who buys poetry these days?

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Jan 26, 2014
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Winfried Georg Maximilian Sebald was a German writer and academic. His works are largely concerned with the themes of memory and loss of memory (both personal and collective) and decay (of civilizations, traditions or physical objects). They are, in particular, attempts to reconcile himself with, and deal in literary terms with, the trauma of the Second World War and its effect on the German ...more
More about W.G. Sebald...

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“I have even begun to speak in foreign tongues roaming like a nomad in my own town.” 4 likes
“In the house of shadows where the legend rises the deciphering begins” 0 likes
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