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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars From the Beseiged City, 13 Mar 2009
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Graham Mummery (Sevenoaks, Kent England) - See all my reviews
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How Polish poet Zbigniew Herbert never won the Nobel prize for Literature is a mystery. He had been well translated, into many languages, not least by his fellow Pole and Nobel Laureate Czeslaw Milosz whose translations (previously seen in Penguins much missed Modern European Poets series) appear here by those of the editor of this volume Alissa Valles. It includes a translation of Herbert's last book Epilogue to a Storm, previously unpublished in English.

This volume of nearly 600 pages is monumental, befitting a poet of huge vision. Herbert's range of imagination is stunning. There are poems about the human body, the senses, mythology, perception and philosophical matters. There are fables often with a sly, ironic humour that make subtle swipes at the Communist regime in power for much of Herbert's life. Yet, he never seems to lose touch with simplicity though sometimes dealing with complex ideas.

One barely registers that this is a translation. The language flows. Even more amazing is the amount of quality on show. Even the greatest poets write lesser poems. There are some here. Yet none is a complete dud. In the publicity on the dust jacket there is a review comparing Herbert to TS Eliot. For once such praise is deserved. It's unusual to find a volume of poetry with this size that compels being read from cover to cover. Highly recommended.
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The Collected Poems: 1956-1998
The Collected Poems: 1956-1998 by Zbigniew Herbert (Paperback - 5 Feb 2008)
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