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A Book of Luminous Things: An International Anthology of Poetry
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A Book of Luminous Things: An International Anthology of Poetry

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4.21 of 5 stars 4.21  ·  rating details  ·  1,474 ratings  ·  91 reviews
"A collection of 300 poems from writers around the world, selected and edited by Nobel laureate Czeslaw Milosz Czesław Miłosz's A Book of Luminous Things—his personal selection of poems from the past and present—is a testament to the stunning varieties of human experience, offered up so that we may see the myriad ways that experience can be shared in words and images. Mił ...more
Paperback, 344 pages
Published April 1st 1998 by Mariner Books (first published 1996)
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Community Reviews

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s.penkevich
Jan 17, 2013 s.penkevich rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Kris
Shelves: poetry
'I have always felt that a poet participates in the management of the estate of poetry, of that in his own language and also that of world poetry.'
-Czesław Miłosz


For those, like me, that always wished they could have enrolled in one of Miłosz's courses at Berkeley, can find a bit of a consolation in A Book of Luminous Things. Edited, with a wonderful introduction asserting his intention to not defend poetry but 'remind readers that for some very good reasons [poetry] may be of importance today',
...more
K.D. Absolutely
Apr 13, 2012 K.D. Absolutely rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommended to K.D. by: Nobel Prize for Literature
Shelves: poetry, nobel
Czeslaw Milosz (1911-2004) was a Polish poet, prose writer and translator of Lithuanian origin. He won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1980.

Tomorrow, the Filipinos group here in Goodreads will celebrate our 2nd year anniversary. Our main activity during the celebration will be a poetry reading. This will be our first time to have this kind of ambitious activity. As I try to read at least one work written by each of Nobel Prize awardees, I picked and read this book by Milosz. I thought I could
...more
S.
This anthology was a serious underachiever – I found little excitement in it. Of course there were some good poems, but many of them so well known that they provided little surprise (ever hear of Walt Whitman?).

Part of the problem is Milosz’s apparent love of the Chinese. I almost felt he would have been happier doing a whole anthology of Chinese poets. No disrespect to the Chinese, but I felt I was going to o.d. Chinese poetry is pretty much all contemplation, and unless you're looking exclusi
...more
Kelly
Nothing Twice
-Wislawa Szymborska

Nothing can ever happen twice.
In consequence, the sorry fact is
that we arrive here improvised
and leave without the chance to practice.

Even if there is no one dumber,
if you're the planet's biggest dunce,
you can't repeat the class in summer:
this course is only offered once.

No day copies yesterday,
no two nights will teach what bliss is
in precisely the same way,
with precisely the same kisses.

One day, perhaps some idle tongue
mentions your name by accident:
I feel as
...more
Tara
Jan 29, 2009 Tara rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: poetry
A really wonderful anthology of international poets. Some of them are pretty old, like 1,000 years or so - but there are also lots of contemporary poets, and often the two are showcased side by side. Milosz also gives a little preface or description before a new poet or poem. Since the poems vary widely in geography, culture, and history, these little snippets really helped me to appreciate each poem and learn something new or fun.
Laura
This was good, but I didn't love it. I was surprised not to love it, considering I like so many of the poets represented here. But I didn't love it. The choice of poems was - I don't know, deliberately non-magical, maybe? I'm all for everyday life - I'm a big fan of taking the ordinary and making it strange. But many of these poems were all ordinary, no strange. That said, it does have some wonders.
Martin lyon
The three poems I choose were: The August Afternoon
The Window
Black Meat


I decided to choose The August Afternoon poem because my birthdays in August.
I choose The Window because in books at night people always look at the window and freak.
I choose Black Meat because I like eating meat for dinner.
This book fits onto Three Poems or short stories from one anthology.
I found all of them interesting. The August afternoon was about someone and his mother taking a walk. The Window is about a storm that
...more
Cami
Aug 16, 2008 Cami rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Summer Loper, Jessica, anyone who loves poetry
Shelves: poetry
I've been reading this book for 10+ years now. The great thing about poetry anthologies is that you don't have to read it all at once and you can easily pick them up, get something wonderful out of them in under a minute and be better for it.
Anyway, this is a marvelous collection of just what the title implies. It is divided under the following groupings: Epiphany, Nature, The Secret of a Thing, Travel, Places, The Moment, People Among People, Woman's Skin, Situations, Nonattachment and History.
...more
Madhav
One of my favorite poetry collections--I first read it years ago but frequently find myself picking it up again and re-reading sections. There's a tremendous range of voices in here but what's most striking is how how relevant most of these ancient and contemporary poems from all over the world are to our lives today.
Kathryn
Oh this book! Best anthology of poetry I have ever picked up. I will be eternally in debt to my professor. This book didn't cover Shakespeare, Milton or Frost but translations from the Chinese, Polish and authors you have never heard of before! In a wonderfully surprising way that made me read for days like a novel. Excellent. If you don't own a copy, do.
Summer
Apr 15, 2008 Summer rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Summer by: Cami
A stunning collection. I was blown away by the sections on the body, and women's self image-some achingly poignant. Confession: some skimming throughout
Patti K
A 1996 anthology of poetry selected by the Polish poet Czeslaw Milosz.
He also writes a short intro to each poet which is resonant. I love
the variety of work included here. There are Polish, Italian, Swedish,
ancient Chinese, Japanese, French, and American and British writers
represented. From Tu Fu to William Stafford to Szymborska to Jean
Follain, to Machado, to W.S. Merwin. The poems are divided into sections
of themes such as Epiphany, The Secret of a Thing, History, Places,
and Nature, etc. What
...more
Amber
Overall an unimpressive collection- soothing, but not life-changing. I could have done entirely without the editor's self-important introductions before every poem (I prefer the poems to speak for themselves) and the woeful lack of female poets- especially in the section where it was supposed to be about women, yet there was more insertion of male authors and translators than there were allowances for women to speak on their own behalf because it didnt 'suit the editors purpose'. Will most likel ...more
Yasaman
This is not quite completely international, though it does have a fair proportion of Chinese and Eastern European poetry. I really liked the way the anthology was put together. In addition to an introduction, Milosz separated the anthology into slightly idiosyncratic sections like "A Woman's Skin," "The Secret of a Thing," and "The Moment," with their own introductions, and provided a little blurb about many of the poems. I wish more anthologies would do this, since it provides a nice context an ...more
James
This is a marvelous anthology of poetry with selections that engage the reader with joy and wonder. It is very much an international collection of poetry. If you are familiar with European and American poetry there will be some familiar names, but many poets who are not familiar; though no less beautiful in their poetic offerings. Whether the poets are Chinese, Japanese, Persian or African, you can be sure the poems will fill you with wonder. The poems are grouped in sections by topics, includin ...more
Mark
Dec 21, 2014 Mark rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: poetry
A collection of "international" poetry, so much is in translation. Many fine classical Chinese poems. I don't know where the publisher got the paper that this is printed on, it reminds me of the old Ace science fiction paperbacks that I bought at the Ben Franklin in the 60s, with one novel going one way and another upside down going the other way.
Isla McKetta
A clean collection of poems. There were fewer authors than I first thought, but by the end I was grateful because I had gotten to know them. The intros were sometimes helpful in unlocking the poems and sometimes just a bit filled with overbearingness. I discovered a lot of great things in this book.
Kitty
Wonderful selection of short poems ranging from 8th century China to contemporary America with a helpful prologue to each section : Epiphany, Nature, The Secret of a Thing; Travel; Places; The Moment; People among People (with an explanation of the Greek "Storge" (tender care evident in parent-child/teacher-student relationships; Agape, Caritas) Woman's Skin; Situations; Non-attachment; History.

Why do we read poetry? It provides a sense of the fullness of possibility of being in spite of the cha
...more
Susan
Two things made this book stand out from other anthologies for me-- the diversity of poets and the revealing comments on each poem by the editor. The book is organized into sections: Epiphany, Nature, The Secret of a Thing, Travel, Places, The Moment, People Among People, Woman's Skin, Situations, Nonattachment, and History. Included poets range from Issa to Wislawa Szymborska to W.S. Merwin to Anna Swir to Po Chu-I to Antonio Machado to Tomas Transtromer to Galway Kinnell to Philip Levine to ma ...more
Laura
I loved this anthology for introducing me to new poets, as anthologies often do. Among the new poems I read and re-read:

David Waggoner's devastating poem, "The Author of American Ornithology Sketches a Bird" It took me months...well, you should read it yourself.

Steve Kowits' hilarious "Notice"

and, Anna Swir's moving, "I Wash the Shirt."

Milosz categorizes the poems by theme rather than by time or geography. Here are some of the themes: Epiphany, Nature, Travel, Woman's Skin, Non attachment, Hist
...more
Tony
Apr 28, 2012 Tony rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Poets, philosphers and dreamers
Having read many poetry compilations; a good read is nothing unuusual to me, or a standard read. This compilation will hold you- from the differing cultures comes a fine collection. Nearly every poem contributed in a way that made you think, and left you glad that you had read it.

Many of the poets were not familiar to me. The theme throughout, of life, carried a commonality between all the poets. The compilation could almost be charecterized as sultry in the way each poem was threaded into the w
...more
David Weller
Nov 02, 2014 David Weller rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Readers of Chinese and/or Polish poems
Shelves: anthology
Enlightening poems, chapterized by topic. About half of the total number of poems are Polish and Chinese.
Bruce Macdonald
A tolerable evening with a Polish fellow.
Jeanne
Love.
Dave
Sep 18, 2007 Dave rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: potree
When one of your favorite poets (who also won the Nobel for literature) edits an international anthology of poetry...how could it miss? Not only is this collection "international" but also "intertemporal" (I know, ain't a word)with some selections from ancient China as well as contemporary poetry. Milosz has an interesting way of categorizing groups of poems and his introductions to these different groupings are an additional value.
Janet
The editor is a Nobel prize winner, so a collection based on his personal favorite poems, poets, and themes seemed like an excellent way to get introduced to a broader range of poets than I know. However, Milosz's sensibilities are very different than mine, and I eventually got bogged down. I found a dozen or so poems which I liked very much, and I'll be looking up those poets on my own, but Milosz is not the guide for me.
Ginevra
I picked out this poetry anthology to read to my daughter while breastfeeding. I haven't read much poetry recently, so it is a bit difficult to compare with other books. I would say that the poems are lovely and intelligible. They span numerous cultures and times. They are easy to read aloud and I think I will be enjoying this book for a long time.
Mejix
Best poetry anthology ever. Yes, it is only representative of a particular type of poetry. And yes, Milosz's commentaries are not always useful. (In fact I mostly ignored them). The selection, however, is very coherent, and the quality is consistently excellent. The book has a great many poems that are really extraordinary.

Kelley
Jan 24, 2008 Kelley rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: the whole wide world
I carried a copy of this book with me when I traveled cross country. Nearly everywhere I went people were just drawn to the book and several people offered to buy it from me. This is, hands down, the greatest anthology of poetry I've come acoss. The short, eloquent introductions enhance the beauty of the poetry. Simply perfect!
Lisa Asanuma
Some really gorgeous poems in this book, probably the most coherent collection of poems from multiple poets that I've ever read—not that that's saying so much. But it was quite nice. And many of them are California poets, and you really can tell. I could just taste California on their poems. Sigh.
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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
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“Since poetry deals with the singular, not the general, it cannot - if it is good poetry - look at things of this earth other than as colorful, variegated, and exciting, and so, it cannot reduce life, with all its pain, horror, suffering, and ecstasy, to a unified tonality of boredom and complaint. By necessity poetry is therefore on the side of being and against nothingness.” 4 likes
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