Provinces : Poems 1987-1991 by Czeslaw Milosz ; Translated by the Author and Robert Hass
New York : The Ecco Press, 1991. First Edition. Stated. Hardcover. 72 pages ; 25 cm. Price clipped dust jacket. Pages are clean and unmarked. Binding is firm.
In Provinces, his first book of poetry SL-The Collected Poems (1988), Nobel Prizewinner Czeslaw Milosz, with characteristic vigor and clear-sightedness, continues his investigations into the themes that have absorbed his work from the beginning — most importantly, the struggle to give expression and meaning to the seeming incomprehensibility of our experience.
Milosz, from the perspective of his mature years, meditates on youth and mortality and the redemptive powers of language and imagination in poems that pulse and shimmer with the elemental — fire, earth, ocean, wind, and clouds — and that are populated with biblical characters^ writers, artists, and scientists. He renews and deepens his poetic explorations as he journeys across the borders that hazily delineate past and present, sensual and philosophical, contemporary and classical, visiting monuments to posterity — libraries and museums — as well as fleeting, though no less consequential, moments from his earlier years. With a prodigious summoning of resources, he writes with the vitality of a man coming to terms with his own life, whose meaningful existence depends on the ability to find solace in compassion and beauty, to allow memory to bridge the barriers of time, and to account for the inherent deficiencies of philosophy and our too-human gods. With his trademark clarity and intensity, Milosz examines, challenges, and often rejects religious and artistic consolation until finally it is only the poetic voice itself that is capable of reconciling "the inborn and the perpetual desire ... for a God-like domain" with that which "lurks in the very brushwood of existence . . . steel-gray nothingness."
At an age when most poets have left their major work behind them, Milosz vigorously continues to break new ground. Perhaps it is the nature of his theme — what it means, finally, to be human — that makes age and experience so durable and enabling amuse, and Provinces his finest book to date.
Czeslaw Milosz's books of poetry in English translation include Bells In Winter, The Separate Notebooks, Unattainable*Earth, and The Collected Poems 1931-1987, all from The Ecco Press. He has also published English translations of the poems of Zbigniew Herbert and Aleksander Wat. Czeslaw Milosz was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1980 and is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
Robert Mass is the author of three collections of poems, Field Guide, Praise, and Human Wishes, and a book of essays, Twentieth Century Pleasures. His many honors include a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Fellowship and the 1984 National Book Critics Circle Award in criticism.
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