Collected Poems in English
Joseph Brodsky was born on May 24th in Leningrad in 1940. He was arrested at age twenty-three and sentenced to five years on a prison farm for “having a worldview damaging to the state, decadence and modernism, failure to finish school, and social parasitism … except for the writing of awful poems.” He then was expelled ("strongly advised" to emigrate) from the Soviet Union in 1972, settling in the United States with the help of W. H. Auden and other supporters. Brodsky was awarded the 1987 Nobel Prize in Literature "for an all-embracing authorship, imbued with clarity of thought and poetic intensity". He was appointed United States Poet Laureate in 1991.
…I have waded the steppes that saw yelling Huns in saddles,
worn the clothes nowadays back in fashion in every quarter,
planted rye, tarred the roofs of pigsties and stables,
guzzled everything save dry water.
I've admitted the sentries' third eye into my wet and foul
dreams. Munched the bread of exile; it's stale and warty.
Granted my lungs all sounds except the howl;
switched to a whisper. Now I am forty.
What should I say about my life? That it's long and abhors transparence.
Broken eggs make me grieve; the omelette, though, makes me vomit.
Yet until brown clay has been rammed down my larynx,
only gratitude will be gushing from it.
My previous commentaries on his essays and poetry can be found at Poetic Essays and What is Poetry?