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 ...
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," endeavored from the time he "first took to writing poems seriously," to write a poem for every Christmas. He said in an interview: "What is remarkable about Christmas? The fact that what we're dealing with here is the calculation of life--or, at the very least, existence--in the consciousness of an individual, a specific individual." He continued, "I liked that concentration of everything in one place--which is what you have in that cave scene." There resulted a remarkable sequence of poems about time, eternity, and love, spanning a lifetime of metaphysical reflection and formal invention. In "Nativity Poems" six superb poets in English have come together to translate the ten as yet untranslated poems from this sequence, and the poems are presented in English in their entirety in a beautiful, pocket-sized edition illustrated with Mikhail Lemkhin's photographs of winter-time St. Petersburg.
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Publishers Weekly, 2001-10-22 Beginning when he "first took up writing poems seriously," former U.S. poet laureate Joseph Brodsky, who died in 1996 at age 56, wrote a Christmas poem each year. Of the 18 Nativity Poems of this holiday collection, 10 are previously untranslated, and are presented bilingually. Among the renderers are Seamus Heaney, Anthony Hecht, Paul Muldoon, Derek Walcott, Richard Wilbur and Brodsky himself. Glyn Maxwell's excellent version of "Speech over Spilt Milk" finds "God/ has lighted in the blue immense/ the planets, icon lamps to glow/ before the face we cannot know./ What's poetry but a review/ of the existing evidence." (Nov.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
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