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Facing the River
RRP: GBP£ 7.95
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ISBN: 978 1 857541 84 7
Imprint: Carcanet Poetry
Published: July 1995
216 x 135 mm
Publisher: Carcanet Press
After the real presence of divinity in our flesh and blood
which are at the same time bread and wine,
Hearing the immense call of the particular, despite
the earthly law that sentences memory to extinction.
Czeslaw Milosz remains one of the most vigorous, self-renewing voices in modern poetry, breaking new ground by moving forward while attending continually to his past, how his Lithuania, and Europe at large, keep their habit of partial memory and forgetting. Facing the River -- the river all reach in time -- contains poems of candour and intimacy. It is to particulars of experience that Milosz turns: general truth emerges from what they disclose and conceal. As always -- in poems such as the sequence 'Lithuania. After Fifty-Two Years', 'Wanda' (about the painter Wanda Telakowska), 'Sarajevo', 'Translating Anna Swir on an Island in the Caribbean' -- visible worlds exists, sensations of body and soul are durable in memory, a living resource and not a nostalgia. In a century of mishap and tragedy, Milosz remains aware of suffering but aware too, like Rilke, of the poet's duty to celebrate, to make real experience of which he is himself made. He has objected to the term 'witness' when applied to his work: if poems do no more than that they are merely essentialised journalism. Facing the River, the work of an old man, does not smack of finality but of restless seeking which finds, and finds, and finds.
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