Selected Poems: 1931-2004
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Selected Poems: 1931-2004

4.37 of 5 stars 4.37  ·  rating details  ·  227 ratings  ·  20 reviews
Selected Poems: 1931-2004

celebrates Czeslaw Milosz's lifetime of poetry. Widely regarded as one of the greatest poets of our time, Milosz is a master of expression and probing inquiry. Life opened for Czeslaw Milosz at a crossroads of civilizations in northeastern Europe. This was less a melting pot than a torrent of languages and ideas, where old folk traditions met Catho...more
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published April 4th 2006 by Ecco (first published December 30th 1974)
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Dhanaraj Rajan

I would have added another half star had I known better some of the Polish settings and authors that Milosz mentioned in the poems.

A Difficulty:

I always have trouble writing review for poetry collections. I am more happy to give a poem or two as an example and thus end my review. With this collection too, I will follow the same technique only with a slight variation. That is, taking the creative liberty to my advantage I will resurrect Milosz and I will try to have a lively...more
In 'Ars Poetica?' Milosz eloquently states 'The purpose of poetry is to remind us how difficult it is to remain just one person, for our house is open, there are no keys in the doors, and invisible guests come in and out at will'. I think his poetry does more than see us compromised by these exchanges.

His confessions are whimsical, he celebrates his 'my-ness', and his heart that 'holds more than speech does'.

Like the best poets he raises more questions than answers, and in doing so reveals all...more
Making my way through this book has been joyful. I have loved discovering how Milosz evolved over the course of his career and how he adapted within his work to living in California. He has a wonderful sense of humor as well as the ability to illustrate pain such that we feel along with him but are not swallowed by despair. I write down quotes from 80% of the poems as I read them.
"Human reason is beautiful and invincible.
No bars, no barbed wire, no pulping of books,
No sentence of banishment can prevail against it.
It establishes universal ideas in language,
And guides our hand so we write Truth and Justice
With capital letters, lie and oppression with small.
It puts what should be above things as they are,
Is an enemy of despair and a friend of hope."
- from "Incantation", 1968 (p 87)

His poetry runs the gamut of feeling and thought, of nature and man, of beauty and the truth o...more
Samuel Snoek-Brown
Outstanding. Not every poem is perfect, but every poem is beautiful, and some are so moving they floored me, made me hiss an inhalation and hold my breath just to contain the reflection, the emotion, the impact. Milosz is amazing.
I struggle so much with poetry, as a general rule. When reading poetry doesn't feel like a chore, that's how I know I've found a poet that I connect with (hello, Dickinson!). I am a long-form kind of person - essay, narrative, novel, non-fiction works. Poetry and I, for whatever inexplicable reason, have just never jibed completely. Not in writing nor reading. This says much about me and my own limitations, and nothing about the quality of poetry that exists in the world.

However, I can appreciat...more
Love is sand swallowed by parched lips. (Hymn, p. 35)

So I thought of you today and decided to write about Czeslaw Milosz. I thought of suffering, of pains in the gait, things of that nature. Then I thought of you working and suffering, working and suffering a little helplessly, feeling yourself watching yourself through the wide window beside your desk.

... children in half-sleep run their hands across the wall
and draw lands with a finger wet with saliva... (Hymn, p. 36)

I thought of historical tr...more
James Klagge
From a poem "On Angels":
I have heard that voice many a time when asleep
and, what is strange, I understood more or less
an order or an appeal in an unearthly tongue:
day draws near
another one
do what you can.

Another poem "Gift":
A day so happy.
Fog lifted early, I worked in the garden.
Hummingbirds were stopping over honeysuckle flowers.
There was no thing on earth I wanted to possess.
I knew no one worth my envying him.
Whatever evil I had suffered, I forgot.
To think that once I was the sam...more
I just love Miłosz a lot. Poetry doesn't have to make you feel better to be good, but his poems do make me feel better and they also happen to be very good.
Roger DeBlanck
The poetry of Czeslaw Milosz makes intense inquires into the peril and suffering of the human condition. He confesses his dilemma towards the cruel reality that, as a poet, he must find his subject matter in the horrors of the world. But his duty as a poet is also to use his verse to confront atrocities in order to give voice to the oppressed and vanquished. Born in Lithuania but of Polish descent, Milosz was professor of Slavic languages and literature at UC Berkeley for nearly forty years befo...more
As is almost always the case, I liked the early, more frantic work better than the later, more poised work. He becomes more and more pious in his works as he gets older so that by the end of "Last Poems," he's praising and praising endlessly-- the critical or questioning voice gone entirely from his exploration of religion. That's a turn off for me. Still, the first 50 pages or so hum with power. Those first 100 pages are what poetry is all about: powerful, concrete images as metaphor, and a pro...more
Milosz lived in Poland during the Holocaust/WWII and a lot of his writing is from the perspective of a non-Jew reflecting on this depressing experience. His poetry is pretty and simple - I prefer the stuff he wrote later in life. Overall, it's not full of superfluous description and metaphor - I like that. This collection covers his writing from 1932-2003 (dude died in 2004). I read this in four days. Don't do that. They're talking about a bunch of abandoned piglets that are now at the Humane So...more
I am not sure that I have ever read poetry of such authority and sincerity, without cant or artifice. I am very happy that I have not passed through life without reading it. I did not understand every word, but what I did comprehend was enough for a first reading: the profound concern for the particular, the recognition that each thing and person is one-of-a-kind and irreplaceable, the indifference to generalities, the nostalgia. I will read all these poems again. I appreciate Mr. Haas' putting...more
I was pretty into this volume in high school, which I think is now out of print in favor of selections that cover the remainder of his life. (I had this around 1998 or so.) I remember particular favorites were "Conversation with Jeanne" and "A Poem for the End of the Century".
E.S. Wynn
I like Milosz-- his poetry is very beautiful and well crafted, fascinating and full of wisdom that only comes with the kind of life that the man lived, but I had a hard time with the consistent love affair he seems to have with oblivion after death.
I'm in love with him and these poems that celebrate life now. Poems that condemn ignorance and help us to see the beauty of life as it is and not as we would pretend it.
Of course I don't have this edition but the Collected Poems. Have enjoyed the later poems much more than the earlier and middle ones.
I'm not very proficient in poetry but I enjoyed reading these. I plan to come back and read them again from time to time.
Apr 06, 2008 Thomas rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Thomas by: Gosia W.
Hands down my favorite Lithuanian poet. (Are there any others?)
Jul 25, 2009 Cami rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: poetry
3.5 stars
I appreciate his practical way of writing.
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  • Miracle Fair: Selected Poems
  • Winter Stars
  • Selected Poems
  • Without End: New and Selected Poems
  • Selected Poems
  • The Collected Poems, 1956-1998
  • Selected Poems, 1966-1987
  • Poems of Akhmatova
  • Pictures from Brueghel and Other Poems: Collected Poems, 1950-1962
  • The Shadow of Sirius
  • The Simple Truth
  • Repair
  • The Figured Wheel: New and Collected Poems, 1966-1996
  • Time and Materials
  • The Selected Poetry
  • The Way It Is: New and Selected Poems
  • Collected Poems, 1948-1984
  • Otherwise: New & Selected Poems
Czesław Miłosz memorialised his Lithuanian childhood in a 1955 novel, The Issa Valley , and in the 1959 memoir Native Realm . After graduating from Sigismund Augustus Gymnasium in Vilnius, he studied law at Stefan Batory University and in 1931 he travelled to Paris, where he was influenced by his distant cousin Oscar Milosz, a French poet of Lithuanian descent and a Swedenborgian. His first volume...more
More about Czesław Miłosz...
A Book of Luminous Things: An International Anthology of Poetry New and Collected Poems: 1931-2001 The Captive Mind Second Space: New Poems Road-side Dog

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“Yet falling in love is not the same as being able to love.” 62 likes
“Human reason is beautiful and invincible.
No bars, no barbed wire, no pulping of books,
No sentence of banishment can prevail against it.
It puts what should be above things as they are.
It does not know Jew from Greek nor slave from master.”
More quotes…