Czeslaw Milosz (1911-2004) was born in Lithuania. During the Second World War he was active in the Resistance in Poland and later served in the Polish diplomatic corps. A poet, translator, essayist and novelist, he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1980.
Nobel laureate Milosz states in his introduction that the purpose of this personal and eclectic collection is to present poetry that is "short, clear, readable, and...realistic, that is, loyal toward reality and attempting to describe it as concisely as possible." And for the most part, he has succeeded. The poems have a clarity and immediacy that would appeal to even the most poetry-averse reader. Most of the selections are from classical Chinese and 20th-century American and European (primarily Eastern European, Scandinavian, and French) poets. The poems are grouped by intriguing headings ("The Moment," "The Secret of a Thing," "A Woman's Skin"), and Milosz has written brief prefaces to many of them, creating an unusual sense of dialog between editor and reader. "My intention," says Milosz, "is not so much to defend poetry...but rather, to remind readers that for some very good reasons it may be of importance today." This refreshing and wise anthology is recommended for all collections.‘Christine Stenstrom, Brooklyn P.L., N.Y.