Saturday, August 20, 2011

Poetry from the World Over

A Book of Luminous Things: An International Anthology of Poetry
A Book of Luminous Things: 

An International Anthology of Poetry 

"The secret of all art, also of poetry, is thus distance.  Thanks to distance the past preserved in our memory is purified and embellished. . .  Remembering, we move to that land of past time, yet now without our former passions:  we do not strive for anything.  We are not afraid of anything, we become an eye which perceives and finds details that escaped our attention." (Introduction, p XX)

This is a marvelous anthology of poetry with selections that engage the reader with joy and wonder. It is very much an international collection of poetry. If you are familiar with European and American poetry there will be some familiar names, but many poets who are not familiar; though no less beautiful in their poetic offerings. Whether the poets are Chinese, Japanese, Persian or African, you can be sure the poems will fill you with wonder.  The poems are grouped in sections by topics, including: "Epiphany", "Nature", "The secret of a Thing", "Travel and Places", "The Moment", "People Among People", and more.  No wonder that the editor is Czeslaw Milosz who uses his own genius to guide the reader. In his introductory essay he reminds readers of the importance of poetry and then selects poetry that helps each of us understand what he meant by that.
Of the many fine poems in this anthology here is one of my favorites.  It is by a Chinese poet of the 8th century, Tu Fu, and is translated by Kenneth Rexroth:


Sunset glitters on the beads
Of the curtains.  Spring flowers
Bloom in the valley.  The gardens
Along the river are filled
With perfume.  Smoke of cooking
Fires drifts over the slow barges.
Sparrows hop and tumble in
The branches.  Whirling insects
Swarm in the air.  Who discovered
That one cup of thick wine
Will dispel a thousand cares?

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parrish lantern said...

This is on my list of books, to be owned at some point soon,As all I've read about it points to it being a good anthology.

James said...

I have enjoyed this collection. Some complain that there are too many familiar poets included, but they are there for a reason. The best things are the Asian poetry that is included (which is new to me); the topical organization; and Milosz's introduction which is illuminating. He is one of my favorite authors and I find his observations worthwhile. I hope you find aspects of this book that you can enjoy as well.

parrish lantern said...

If your interested in some more Asian poetry a good book is penguins Post War Japanese Poetry - ed, by Harry & Lynn Guest & Kajima Shozo. Another great trilogy of Anthologies is BloodAxe books "Staying Alive. Being Alive & Being Human" this is a fantastic collection of over 1200 contemporary poetry from around the world. If you're looking for some background on Japanese poetry there's Modernism in practice (an introduction to Japanese poetry) by Leith Morton.

James said...

Thanks for the recommendations. I have Staying Alive in the US edition (Miramax Books). I'll look for the other volumes. The Penguin Japanese poetry is out of print but I'll look for a used copy. I do have a nice Chinese anthology by David Hinton, Classical Chinese Poetry.

parrish lantern said...

mine's a used copy, as is the Modernism in practice, got for a pittance from Amazon.