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Adonis: Selected Poems

4.26  ·  Rating details ·  220 ratings  ·  30 reviews
Born in Syria in 1930, Adonis is one of the most celebrated poets of the Arabic-speaking world. His poems have earned international acclaim, and his influence on Arabic literature has been likened to that of T. S. Eliot’s on English-language verse. This volume serves as the first comprehensive survey of Adonis’s work, allowing English readers to admire the arc of a ...more
Hardcover, 432 pages
Published October 19th 2010 by Yale University Press
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Jun 24, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry, adonis
How can I call what is between us a past?
How can I say then that our love
has been taken by the wrinkled hands of time
What did we lose, what was lost in us?
To whom do these distances belong that separated us
and that now bind us?
Are we still one
or have we both broken into pieces? How gentle this dust is-

Its body now, and mine, at this very minute
are one and the same
Cleanse your memory
of every moment that did not know how to meet you.
Mar 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry, translation
adonis, while relatively unknown amongst english-speaking audiences, is perhaps the most acclaimed modern poet in the arab world. the syrian-born octogenarian, also an important critic, is widely considered a perennial contender for the nobel prize. prior to this collection, very little of adonis's poetry has been available in english. selected poems, however, may well come to be the definitive edition of his works in translation. spanning some fifty years, this collection features poems from ...more
Adam Sol
A remarkable accomplishment, both for Mattawa as a translator, and of course for Adonis himself as a pioneering artist in his language. I'm only just beginning my education in Arabic poetry, but the importance of Adonis as a modernizer and voice of exploration is crucial.
Travis Grimme
Dec 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
Goodness what a talented man
Imen  Benyoub
Oct 31, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I would give 6 stars for the magnificent work of Khaled Mattawa and the luxurious, stunning, rich, multilayered, fiery, voluptuous and elegant language of Adonis, a week or so of reading and this book transported me everywhere.

I have read many poems and texts in this book in Arabic because Adonis was the first poet I discovered in my house, as a curious teenager I read the two books and never fully understood his poetry, now after a decade I still read with the first curiosity and astonishment
Saya baca buku ini gratisan dari Libgen, maklum gak punya banyak uang untuk beli. Saya suka sama puisi Adonis karena puisinya tergolong sajak bebas mirip seperti puisinya Walt Whitman dari segi teknik, saya memang bukan ahli puisi, tapi entah kenapa saya tak terlalu suka dengan puisi-puisi yang rimanya sangat beraturan, soalnya kalau dibaca mirip kaya suara repetitif yang agak mengganggu. Saya dulu ingat waktu sekitar satu setengah tahun yang lalu baca kumpulan puisinya Rudyard Kipling versi ...more
Wilson Felicio
Jul 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Poesia árabe, de um escritor ainda obscuro no Brasil.

Um trecho (adaptado - português):

O que é?

A morte:
carro que leva
do útero da mulher
ao útero da terra

A escuridão:
útero grávido de sol

O sonho:
elevar o real
ao nível da fantasia

A lágrima:
guerra perdida pelo corpo

A natureza:
língua do olhar
para escrever a visão

A suposição:
mão que apalpa o corpo da escuridão

A memória:
casa habitada só
por coisas ausentes

O segredo:
porta fechada
quando aberta se quebra

A surpresa:
que escapou da gaiola
Dec 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I had read part of this volume in the past but wasn’t in a place time wise to finish it. I’m glad I did. Adonis is a true modernist, in the sense that even when I don’t understand him (which is often) he still dazzles me with the beauty and inventiveness of his poems. I’d highly recommend this collection by an underrated Syrian master, and I will continue to hope that he wins the Nobel Prize and gets the world wide audience he deserves.
Aug 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is a volume of brilliant, beautiful poetry. And I don't usually like modernist poetry all that much.
As you want any poet to do, he creates provocative images and metaphors by artfully using a word or idea in a way that is both familiar and alien. Plus, his poetry is affected by the complex and often violent history of his Syrian homeland. I understand why Adonis is often listed as a potential Nobel prize winner. In fact, I'm surprised he hasn't already won.
Nov 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Great selection of captivating poems. Adonis's voice is so powerful and the images so pure and raw, it's like he was painting but instead of brush he hold pen, instead of colors he used ink and we don't look at the canvas but we absorb the words. Khaled Mattawa gave us someting remarkable - his translation and foreword are worth of huge praise.


Adam whispered to me
choking on a sigh,
on silence and whimpers -
"I am not the world's father.
I never saw heaven.
Take me to God."

(p. 56)

Miranda Debenham
Jan 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Edit: Isn't it wonderful that I, a monolingual Brit, can have as my favourite poet a dead German (Rilke) and then make comparison with a collection of Syrian poetry? Aren't translators amazing, especially translators of poetry?!

Not fully finished because this needs digesting slowly but such wide ranging poetry. Huge themes of love and loss and faith.
Sep 07, 2019 rated it liked it
Repetitive concepts and phrases. However, I liked it on average; contained a good number of well-crafted poems
Shirai Yanagi
Nov 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Read his remarkable poetry during Oriental Literature classes.
Aug 27, 2017 rated it it was ok
I don't read a lot of poetry, but I didn't connect much with this. The language flows nicely and there were a few bits that I really enjoyed, but not enough for such a hefty collection.
Oct 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction, first-rate
Apr 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Es un poeta que resignifica el espacio y tiempo; se intuye que de la observación nace el poema: "la poesía completa al hombre, no es para nada su imagen (...) [la] armonía entre el mundo y yo no me resultaba difícil, pero tuve siempre la mirada fija entre el abismo que se sitúa entre nosotros"; Adonis no se quiere apropiar del mundo, quiere darle sentido hasta en el sinsentido: es variable como el viento o el oleaje y a veces permanece como el polvo. Vale la pena leer las " Seis notas del lado ...more
Vicki Gundrum
Apr 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A perfect book for me. Poetical and cerebral and luscious. He writes about Jerusalem, in all its names and histories and meanings. You do not need a special interest in Jerusalem to love this book. Bob Dylan prevailed over Adonis and this book to win the Nobel Prize for Literature. I was rooting for Adonis, but I have nothing against Bob Dylan. Why is there no Grammy for best lyrics? Bob Dylan should win that. Hip hop rules US culture now, again, why no Grammy for best rapper or lyricist?
Petya Kokudeva
Oct 18, 2013 rated it liked it
Странно, откривах по-скоро малки вирчета с прясна вода в стихотворенията,рядко някое стихотворение да ме въодушеви в цялостта си. Напомнят ми духа на една антология на турски поети, която четох преди време - гравитираща около морето меланхолия, малко затормозяващо ме усещане за отколешност, повече съзерцателност, по-малко необичайност. Като реене беше четенето, от една страна приказно, от друга обаче ме остави с особено усещане за безцелност. Може и английският превод да е отчасти причина, не ...more
Jun 30, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry, 2013, translations
Not going to lie- this was dense and tricky to get through. I often found myself reading the same lines over and over because I just couldn't seem to keep them in my head. All the same, I found myself copying out the poems that did leave an impression into various notebooks, so it wasn't an entirely wasted effort. Came away feeling slightly unhooked from myself so if I read with more concentration, who knows what might happen?
It was something I had picked up on a whim, not knowing about his
Dec 24, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry
I did love some of what was said in this book, but there were many things I found pointless. However, I cannot be certain given that I can't expect to understand what cultural "interpretations" I do not know about. Also, though I did enjoy some of the poems, I personally did not like Adonis's style as well. All I can really say is that this is a good read to simply broaden one's perspective.
Antonio Delgado
Nov 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Reading Adonis’ poetry is a way to think outside dialectics. Good, evil, dark, light, body, mind, reason and emotions are not opposite from each but a way of thinking our uncertainties. Adonis’ poetry helps the reader to understand and to accept humanity’s contradictions.
Jennifer Sears
Oct 06, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I've looked at other editions of Adonis' work and find this the most accessible. The intro. seems thorough and give a good overview of the impressive history and trajectory of Adonis' work. I was very partial to the tree poems. Tree, tree, tree...
Apr 24, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2016, syrian-lit, poetry
I feel that I don't know enough about Arab poetry (I know nothing about Arab poetry) to appreciate these poems properly. I'm also not overly fond of 50+ page long poems, tbh.

My favourites: A Coat, Longing, Song, A Vision, Adam, Celebrating Childhood
Dan Ray
Nov 24, 2014 rated it it was ok
While Adonis is highly lauded, his poetry is very inaccessible. He obviously has a very nice command of language, and I did find many line throughout the book that i identified with and that spoke to me, but overall I couldn't get into it.
Mugren Ohaly
Jun 24, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013
They say that Adonis was one of the greatest Arabic poets. Regardless of that, there is nothing remotely good about these poems.
Marcia Lynx
Have a review coming out in The Kenyon Review, so can't comment yet, but will after it's published.
Dina Rahajaharison
Nov 02, 2012 rated it it was amazing
'He walks the abyss, tall as the wind.'
Dustin Kurtz
Jul 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing
One of the great poets of our time.
Brian Wasserman
rated it it was amazing
Oct 15, 2016
David Hooker
Nov 09, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
Really enjoying it thus far. This guy is an amazing poet.
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Adonis was born Ali Ahmed Said in the village of Al Qassabin in Syria, in 1930, to a family of farmers, the oldest of six children. At the age of nineteen, he adopted the name Adonis (also spelled Adunis), after the Greek god of fertility, with the hopes that the new name would result in newspaper publication of his poems.

Although his family could not afford to send Adonis to school, his father
“I love, I love beauty
and in it I worship my follies,
the ones I found on my own,
and the ones to which I was led”

"He carries in his eyes
a pearl; from the ends of days
and from the winds he takes
a spark; and from his hand,
from the islands of rain
a mountain, and creates dawn.
I know him—he carries in his eyes
the prophecy of the seas.
He named me history and the poem
that purifies a place.
I know him—he named me flood.”
More quotes…