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Nativity Poems

4.21  ·  Rating details ·  118 Ratings  ·  16 Reviews
Christmas poems by the Nobel Laureate

To Him, all things seemed enormous: His mother's breast, the
steam out
of the ox's nostrils, Caspar, Balthazar, Melchior, the team
of Magi, the presents heaped by the door, ajar.
He was but a dot, and a dot was the star.
--from "Star of the Nativity"

Joseph Brodsky, who jokingly referred to himself as "a Christian by correspondence," endeav
Paperback, 128 pages
Published November 13th 2002 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (first published 2001)
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Margaret Langstaff
Nov 29, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This is an odd take for a comment on a Nobel Laureate, but as a former publisher and bookseller as well, I always wince when reading the halting "product descriptions" of Brodsky's works and the sparse, paltry treatment of his bio, character and accomplishment. He was such a hugely magnanimous talent with a fascinating personal history, it seems to me he would be more accessible and more widely read/appreciated if he'd been more generously handled by his publishers with respect to publicity etc. ...more
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La risoluzione di scrivere una poesia d’occasione ad ogni Natale ha prodotto nella carriera di Brodskij diciotto poemi, così suddivisi: sette tra 1962 e 1973, undici, uno all’anno, tra 1985 e 1995. Due serie da un decennio ciascuna, quindi, con un intervallo tra loro di dodici anni.

Nelle prime poesie il Natale (o anche la fine dell’anno) è vissuto come occasione mancata, lamentando la povertà e la solitudine del poeta con una tristezza dapprima mesta, poi rancorosa, e solo negli ultimi anni ris
Rachel Terry
Nov 25, 2009 rated it really liked it
For about the first half of the book, I didn't really like the poems. They felt raw and discontent. But about halfway through the book, the tone of the poems shifted. That's when I noticed the dates. They are ordered chronologically. By the mid-1980s, the poems feel wise and hopeful. Then I got to thinking: if I lived in the Soviet Union in the 1960s, I'd probably feel pretty raw and discontent, too, especially if I had been sentenced to internal exile and physical labor (like Brodsky was).

David Alexander
Nov 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing
By Joseph Brodsky

Brodsky has a killer sense of humor. I'm thinking of the long poem "Speech Over Spilled Milk", which starts out by the speaker's declaration that he is too broke to visit anyone this Christmas and he "shakes with ill will in my chair." He says if you try to scrounge at the Union Branch for money, you might as well scrounge from the local girls (I think he means trying to bum money from prostitutes). He pokes fun at Marx, Capitalism and Communism from the vantage point of a poor
I don't know what I was expecting from a Nobel prize-winning poet and essayist, but I can say with certainty that it wasn't this. Perhaps the poems are more mellifluous and meaningful in their Russian originals, but not one of the translated poems had any impact, and some were utterly lifeless. (Perhaps that is what the author was referring to in the concluding interview when he discussed using "an absolutely neutral meter" that narrates with a sort of displeasure. Whatever.) Based on this slend ...more
Neil Gussman
Feb 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Lovely! So strange to think of a Russian-Jewish poet writing a series of Nativity poems. They are beautiful.
Jan 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
In 2001 Santa brought me this little book with Brodsky's christmas poems.
Beautiful, balancing between your feet in the wet snow and the sounds of Christmas bells.
Every year i read them again.
Jan 03, 2011 rated it it was amazing
moving. beautiful.
Karissa Meyers
I read this collection of poems in one sitting. At times, I was turned off by irreverence, but at other times, I admired reverence. I had mixed feelings. There were definitely good and wholesome pieces, especially in the second half of the collection, but not everything affirmed the true and beautiful. Maybe one poem was good in its entirety. However, although there are probably better religiously inspired and orthodox poems out there, Brodsky's pen isn't one to pass over, I think. He offers a u ...more
Apr 08, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
The first section of poems felt a lot like "The Howl." They are about being a poor starving artist and drugs. To me they were intense and well-executed. The later sections were not as bleak and became neutral in meter. There were Christian themes as well as references to Greek and Roman myths. There was also an interview at the end of this book that made for interesting reading.
Overall I'm glad I picked it up and read it.
Benjamin Dueholm
Jan 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing
"Imagine the Lord, for the first time, from darkness, and stranded / immensely in the distance, recognizing himself in the Son / of Man: homeless, going out to Himself in a homeless one." Great poems, beautiful translations by Seamus Heaney, Richard Wilbur, Derek Wolcott, Brodsky himself, and others.

Jan 04, 2013 rated it liked it
A poem written (mostly) every Christmas, from his years serving hard labor in the Russian Arctic in the '60s through to the '90s during his life as an emigre, separated from his family. Beautiful. This edition includes the Russian-language originals alongside some nice translations. Very moving and thought-provoking.
Dec 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Very fine poems. I realized half-way through that Brodsky already wrote the poems I dream of writing and wrote them better than I will ever be able to.
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May 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing
What did you think? I thought, "holy shit. How did I live before reading this?"
That good.
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Iosif Aleksandrovich Brodsky (Russian: Иосиф Александрович Бродский, IPA: [ɪˈosʲɪf ˈbrotskʲɪj] was a Russian poet and essayist.

Born in Leningrad in 1940, Brodsky ran afoul of Soviet authorities and was expelled from the Soviet Union in 1972, settling in America with the help of W. H. Auden and other supporters. He taught thereafter at universities including those at Yale, Cambridge and Michigan.

More about Joseph Brodsky...

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