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Mysticism for Beginners: Poems

4.26  ·  Rating Details  ·  117 Ratings  ·  10 Reviews
Powerful New work by a modern master.

You must listen, listen, listen.
Tired springs breathe under water.
At four in the morningthe last, lonely bolt of lightning
scribbles something quickly in the sky.
It says "No." Or "Never.
"Or "Take courage, the fire's not dead."
-from "The Last Storm"

Mysticism for Beginners is the third and most beautiful of Adam Zagajewski's collections to
Paperback, 80 pages
Published April 15th 1999 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (first published 1997)
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Courtney Johnston
Jul 30, 2012 Courtney Johnston rated it liked it
Shelves: borrowed, poetry
Adam Zagajewski might be a little quiet, a little plain-spoken, a little lacking in the electric-skin-flicker I'm looking for right now. Whatever the reason, these poems largely flowed over me without catching.

One thing did catch me though: his repeated use (or Clare Cavanagh's repeated use in her translation) of the zeugma, a rhetorical device in which two words or phrases are yoked together. Most of the examples you find online help not at all to explain this idea - my favourite is, I believe,
Jul 11, 2009 Melissa rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
"Oh, tell me how to cure myself of irony, the gaze/ that sees but doesn't penetrate..."

He did, he did. These are poems without armor.

Also, Clare Cavanaugh worked magic with the internal rhymes in the translation from Polish.
Dom Zuccone
Jul 19, 2010 Dom Zuccone rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
For those of us feeling increasingly rootless, Zagajewski finds a place in the beauty of the shower of the world in flight
Danielle Barnhart
Sep 05, 2011 Danielle Barnhart rated it really liked it
Mysticism for Beginners by Adam Zagajewski (translated from the Polish by Clare Cavanagh) is rich, ponderous, inquisitive, and full of both dark and light splendor. Written in free-verse, and in widely varying lengths, the poems somehow capture the elusive stuff of life that draws us into our own brands of spirituality. Zagajewski plays with artists and their subjects, meditate with the sounds of life, and even seems to dance with the dead.

This book of poetry was such a delightful surprise at ev
Dec 06, 2014 Nils rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Overwhelmingly grand. Even without all the historic or intertextual references (which you don't necessarily need) the language here is rich and broad but without becoming pedantic or stilted. Some of the poems here took me considerable time and several rereads to grasp. But even in the longer poems you get the experience, the emotion before you 'understand' or are able to visualize anything or reflect on it. Remarkably, the shorter poems aren't that much easier but they're just as strong and hav ...more
Oct 27, 2015 h rated it it was ok
Shelves: poetry, translated, 2015
some stand out lines & stunning images, but i suspect too much gets lost in the translation shuffle. 2.5
Mar 17, 2007 Garrett rated it really liked it
Shelves: recently-read
I'm not really in any position to review poetry, but this guy writes some good poems. He's Polish, so some of it I can't relate with, which means I probably just don't get the deeper meaning of the poem. The stuff I do get is really good, though, for what it's worth.
I took one star away for the Oriental/exotic/blank slate references.
The City Where I Want to Live; On Swimming
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Adam Zagajewski is a Polish poet, novelist, translator and essayist. He was awarded the 2004 Neustadt International Prize for Literature.

The Zagajeski family was expelled from Lwów by the Ukrainians to central Poland in 1945.
In 1982 he emigrated to Paris, but in 2002 he returned to Poland, and resides in Kraków.
His poem "Try To Praise The Mutilated World", printed in The New Yorker, became famou
More about Adam Zagajewski...

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