Synopses & 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 Catholic, Protestant, Judaic, and Orthodox rites. What unfolded next around him was a century of catastrophe and madness: two world wars, revolutions, invasions, and the murder of tens of millions, all set to a cacophony of hymns, gunfire, national anthems, and dazzling lies. In the thick of this upheaval, wide awake and in awe of living, dodging shrapnel, imprisonment, and despair, Milosz tried to understand both history and the moment, with humble respect for the suffering of each individual. He read voraciously in many languages and wrote masterful poetry that, even in translation, is infused with a tireless spirit and a penetrating insight into fundamental human dilemmas and the staggering yet simple truth that "to exist on the earth is beyond any power to name." Unflinching, outspoken, timeless, and unsentimental, Milosz digs through the rubble of the past, forging a vision -- and a warning -- that encompasses both pain and joy. "His intellectual life," writes Seamus Heaney, "could be viewed as a long single combat with shape-shifting untruth."
"No reader, not even poetry-phobes, should miss the bright revelations of Nobel laureate Szymborska. [...] Syzmborska is sharply ironic and lithely philosophical, pondering the phenomenal precision of dreams and the elusiveness of meaning. The neat, prancing lyrics collected in this slender, piercing book are delectable and profound." --Booklist
Praise for Map
New York Times Book Review Editor's Choice
"Both plain-spoken and luminous…Szymborska’s skepticism, her merry, mischievous irreverence and her thirst for the surprise of fresh perception make her the enemy of all tyrannical certainties. Hers is the best of the Western mind—free, restless, questioning.”--New York Times Book Review
"Vast, intimate, and charged with the warmth of a life fully imagined to the end, there’s no better place for those unfamiliar with her work to begin."--Megan O'Grady, Vogue
“Listening to Clare Cavanagh speak of translation as an art is a reminder that translators must be as adept as poets at working with words...Map is not only impressive because of Szymborska’s precise, intimate, and observationally funny poems...but because of Cavanagh and Baranczak’s tireless dedication in bringing them to English without sacrificing their forms."--Jacob Victorine, Publishers Weekly Profile
"Nobel laureate Szymborska’s gorgeous posthumous collection, translated and edited by her confidant, Cavanagh, with Baranczak, includes more than 250 poems, selected from 13 books, dating back to 1952, as well as previously unreleased poems from as far back as 1944. This revered Polish poet, who came to fame well after the poet Charles Simic first handed her work to an editor, interweaves insights into the suffering experienced during WWII and the Cold War brutalities of Stalin with catchy, realistic, colloquial musings on obvious and overlooked aspects of survival. Her poems are revelatory yet rooted in the everyday. She writes about living with horrors, and about ordinary lives: people in love, at work, enjoying a meal. Throughout, Szymborska considers loss and fragility, as when former lovers walk past each other and an aging professor is no longer allowed his vodka and cigarettes. She writes, too, of the imprecision of memory, and in the title poem, the discovery that maps “give no access to the vicious truth.” This is a brilliant and important collection."— Mark Eleveld, Booklist, starred review
"Szymborska (1923–2012), winner of the 1996 Nobel Prize in Literature, has her vast and impressive poetic repertoire on full display in this posthumously published volume. Ordered chronologically, the book reveals her development over seven decades, including a gradual departure from end rhyme and the sharpening of her wit. As multitudinous as Whitman, she conveyed deep feeling through vivid, surreal imagery and could revive clichéd language by reconnecting it to the body in startling ways: “Listen,/ how your heart pounds inside me.” To say that Szymborska wore many hats as a poet is an understatement: odes, critiques, and persona poems are just a few of the forms her writing took. Yet, despite their diversity, the constants of her poems were nuance and observational humor: 'Four billion people on this earth,/ but my imagination is still the same.' Also apparent is Szymborska’s rare ability to present an epiphany in a single line, and her bravery in writing toward death: 'But time is short. I write.' Ever the student, she obsessively explored the histories and processes of writing, never far from penning another Ars Poetica. 'Everything here is small, near, accessible,' Szymborska writes in the title poem—a maxim about the way the reader feels within her lines."--Publishers Weekly, starred and boxed review
One of the century s most important poets. San Francisco Chronicle
One of the greatest poets of our time, perhaps the greatest. Joseph Brodsky
Nobody tells the story of this age better than Czeslaw Milosz. New Republic
Commemorating the centenary year of Nobel Laureate Czeslaw Milosz, Selected and Last Poems 1934 - 2004 is a sterling collection of some of the finest works of one the most revered poets of our time including more than forty later poems new to this edition and never before published in English. Selected and Last Poems is a perfect introduction for poetry readers who might still be unfamiliar with this literary giant s monumental body of work."
"One of the century's most important poets."
--San Francisco Chronicle
"One of the greatest poets of our time, perhaps the greatest."
"Nobody tells the story of this age better than Czeslaw Milosz."
Commemorating the centenary year of Nobel Laureate Czeslaw Milosz, Selected and Last Poems 1934 - 2004 is a sterling collection of some of the finest works of one the most revered poets of our time--including more than forty later poems new to this edition and never before published in English. Selected and Last Poems is a perfect introduction for poetry readers who might still be unfamiliar with this literary giant's monumental body of work.
“One of the centurys most important poets.”
—San Francisco Chronicle
“One of the greatest poets of our time, perhaps the greatest.”
“Nobody tells the story of this age better than Czeslaw Milosz.”
Commemorating the centenary year of Nobel Laureate Czeslaw Milosz, Selected and Last Poems 1934 - 2004 is a sterling collection of some of the finest works of one the most revered poets of our time—including more than forty later poems new to this edition and never before published in English. Selected and Last Poems is a perfect introduction for poetry readers who might still be unfamiliar with this literary giants monumental body of work.
A new collected volume from the Nobel Prize-winning poet, with over 30 poems never previously published together in English, including the 13 poems from the final Polish collection, Enough.
A new collected volume from the Nobel Prize–winning poet that includes, for the first time in English, all of the poems from her last Polish collection
One of Europe’s greatest recent poets is also its wisest, wittiest, and most accessible. Nobel Prize–winner Wislawa Szymborska draws us in with her unexpected, unassuming humor. Her elegant, precise poems pose questions we never thought to ask. “If you want the world in a nutshell,” a Polish critic remarks, “try Szymborska.” But the world held in these lapidary poems is larger than the one we thought we knew.
Carefully edited by her longtime, award-winning translator, Clare Cavanagh, the poems in Map trace Szymborska’s work until her death in 2012. Of the approximately two hundred and fifty poems included here, nearly forty are newly translated; thirteen represent the entirety of the poet’s last Polish collection, Enough, never before published in English.
Map is the first English publication of Szymborska’s work since the acclaimed Here, and it offers her devoted readers a welcome return to her “ironic elegance” (The New Yorker).
A collection of poems from Nobel Prize-winner Szymborska.
An exciting collection of poems by Wislawa Szymborska. When Here
was published in Poland, reviewers marveled, “How is it that she keeps getting better?” These twenty-seven poems, as rendered by prize-winning translators Clare Cavanagh and Stanislaw Baranczak, are among her greatest ever. Whether writing about her teenage self, microscopic creatures, or the upsides to living on Earth, she remains a virtuoso of form, line, and thought.
From the title poem:
I cant speak for elsewhere,
but here on Earth weve got a fair supply of everything.
Here we manufacture chairs and sorrows,
scissors, tenderness, transistors, violins, teacups, dams, and quips . . .
Like nowhere else, or almost nowhere,
youre given your own torso here,
equipped with the accessories required
for adding your own children to the rest.
Not to mention arms, legs, and astonished head.
About the Author
WISLAWA SZYMBORSKA (1923–2012) was born in Poland and worked as a poetry editor, translator, and columnist. She was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1996.
CLARE CAVANAGH, professor of Slavic and comparative literature at Northwestern, has received a PEN Translation Award for her work, with Stanislaw Baranczak, on Szymborska's poetry.