Read Eternal Enemies: Poems by Adam Zagajewski Clare Cavanagh Online


The highway became the Red Sea. We moved through the storm like a sheer valley. You drove; I looked at you with love. —from "Storm" One of the most gifted and readable poets of his time, Adam Zagajewski is proving to be a contemporary classic. Few writers in either poetry or prose can be said to have attained the lucid intelligence and limpid economy of style thaThe highway became the Red Sea.We moved through the storm like a sheer valley.You drove; I looked at you with love.—from "Storm"One of the most gifted and readable poets of his time, Adam Zagajewski is proving to be a contemporary classic. Few writers in either poetry or prose can be said to have attained the lucid intelligence and limpid economy of style that have become a matter of course with Zagajewski. It is these qualities, combined with his wry humor, gentle skepticism, and perpetual sense of history's dark possibilities, that have earned him a devoted international following. This collection, gracefully translated by Clare Cavanagh, finds the poet reflecting on place, language, and history. Especially moving here are his tributes to writers, friends known in person or in books—people such as Milosz and Sebald, Brodsky and Blake—which intermingle naturally with portraits of family members and loved ones. Eternal Enemies is a luminous meeting of art and everyday life....

Title : Eternal Enemies: Poems
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780374216344
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 128 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Eternal Enemies: Poems Reviews

  • Lisa
    2019-05-21 02:17

    I would have hoped for this poet to have a reason to travel to my dark city in December!I might be wrong, but I think he would have answered phone calls.I might be wrong, but I think he would not have been t0o busy.I might be wrong, but I think he might have enjoyed to sign a chair in the Nobel Museum Café.I am wrong most of the time, but not about him touching me in my modern soul, a long time ago, when I thought I did not like poetry. I am wrong about many things, but not about the impact of this poet on my understanding of internal exile in an overstimulating world, where pop culture and cheap politics cry out their sales slogans in loudspeakers while this poet of time, of history, of humanity whispers in a language I do not speak, but understand anyway in translation, because the language of the lonely heart in a cold world is universal. I understand the voice of the poet that speaks of the idealist who does not want to follow the road most travelled by, but who is brave enough to go back and check on the past and face earlier selves, identities and choices:I returned to you years later, Gray and lovely city,unchanging cityburied in the waters of the past.I'm no longer the studentof philosophy, poetry, and curiosity,I'm not the young poetwho wrote too many linesand wandered in the maze of narrow streets and illusions.The sovereign of clocks and shadowshas touched my brow with his hand,but still I'm guided bya star by brightnessand only brightnesscan undo or save me"And my favourite line in the collection, portable in my memory in its short and light message of heavy weight:"Poems are short tragedies, portable, like transistor radios."With Szymborska's View With a Grain of Sand: Selected Poems, and Heaney's Human Chain one of my favourite modern poets.His poems tell universal stories in a few strong words. Highly recommended!How I wish he'd had a reason to travel to my gray city in the dark December night, to spread the brightness that can save or undo.

  • Corin Wenger
    2019-05-10 00:26

    Zagajewski speaks from multiple histories that seem to search for a humane world.... or evoke a fragmented and traumatized world in the pieces of today. The book evokes comparisons with Paul Celan, with references to historical trauma of Auschwitz and the struggle to speak after dehumanization. His poetry is invariably small, modest, and personal in nature, not moralistic but ethically concerned, compassionate. Although I have not read much Milosz or Herbert, I believe he was contemporary with both.I was particularly struck by lines in the poem "Tadeusz Kantor":Much later, though[...:]I witnessed systematic dying,decline, I saw how timeworks on us, time stitched into clothes or rags,into the face's slipping features, I sawthe work of tears and laughter, the gnashing of teeth,I saw boredom and yearning at work, and howprayer might live in us, if we would let it,what blowhard military marches really are,what killing is, and smiling,and what wars are, seen and unseen, just or not,what it means to be a Jew, a German, or a Pole, or maybe just human [...:]The poem seems to break through the indifference of world politics and news to the real unacknowledged grief and the suffering of human violence, and implies that the origins of violence are somewhere within an unwillingness or inability to come to terms with the suffering of others, the alienation from childhood, the objectification of humanity. Witnessing means having one's innocence taken away, as one becomes implicated in the machinery of the state's inhumanity. The weariness and grief in this poem come out especially in its repetition of fragments. Fragments which are parts of a whole which has been shattered when modernity began, out of dehumanization, denial, and depersonalization--"What killing is, and smiling". "How prayer might live in us, if we would let it" is a slender ray of hope in this prison.In most of the poems here, the traces of such violence appear in descriptions of things that have traumatic histories, like cracks across a pastoral scene of amnesia.

  • metaphor
    2019-05-17 00:13

    and now you wonder, canyou return to the raptureof those years, can you stillknow so little and want so much, *What do you do all day?” “I remember. *Will poetry’s epiphany suffice,delight in the staccato of past music,the sight of a river and air enteringAugust’s warm towers,and longing for the sea, always fresh, new.Or moments of celebration and the sensethey bring, that something has suddenlyreturned and we can’t live without it (but we can),do they outweigh the years of emptiness and anger,months of forgetfulness, impatience—we don’t know, we can’t know,if we’ll be savedwhen time ends.

  • Miriam
    2019-05-08 02:30

    You can read some of these poems on google books to see if you like them.

  • Pete
    2019-05-03 04:27

    A collection of short, gently voiced poems that gathers force as it goes, as if Zagajewski's limpid lines, humility and soft unraveling of the resonance of places, moments and people that preoccupy him here begin to alter somehow the air itself. It's quite a lovely encounter in that way. It IS poetry of a certain kind -- unshowy with its metaphors or leaps of imagery, that lets a memory or a scene gradually reveal itself and its potential, where the idea is always hinged to the plain thing. I most enjoyed "The Church of Corpus Christi," "Was It," "Walk Through This Town," "Subject: Brodsky," "Conversation," "Night Is a Cistern," "Epithalamium," "Balance," "Old Marx (2)," "Organ Tuning," and the final poem, "Antennas in the Rain," which in its style, range of imagery and length differs from the concise attention that characterizes the rest of the book.

  • Lanew-yorkaise
    2019-05-22 00:10

    From Adam Zagajewski is often compared to the Polish poet Czeslaw Miloscz: both write of the proximity of history and memory in their native Poland, and both are seen as the preeminent writers to embody the emotions of that country. But where Milocz’s sensibilities developed during the Nazi occupation of Warsaw and his defection from Poland’s communist regime, Zagajewski was born in 1945, and was still an infant when his family relocated to Western Poland. Too young to remember World War II, Zagajewski matured in a country ruled by communism, his writing marked by his membership in the “Generation of ‘68” or “New Wave” of writers in Poland.Zagajewski’s earlier work was marked by angry protest, but in Eternal Enemies (translated by Clare Cavanagh, FSG Paperbacks, April 7, 2009, $14) the anger has mellowed to an acceptance of the weighty past that continues to push against the present. For Zagajewski, the past is an electrical current that informs his sensations as he walks the streets of Europe’s once-great cities still reeling from the tremors. Eternal Enemies covers a lot of ground: the importance of music; musings on Marx, Brodsky, and Milocz; meditative train trips and strolls through a multitude of cities. Yet it is Zagajewsky’s sense of being born too late, of being excluded from the formation of history that stands out most in his writings. This sense of alienation can best be seen in his poem, “In a Little Apartment:” “I ask my father, ‘what do you do all day?’‘I remember.’ …in a low block in the Soviet Stylethat says all towns should look like barracks,and cramped rooms will defeat conspiracies…he relives daily the mild September of ’39, its whistling bombs,and the Jesuit Garden in Lvov, gleamingwith the green glow of maples and ash trees and small birds,kayaks on the Dniester, the scent of wicker and wet sand,that hot day when you met a girl who studied law,the trip by freight car to the west, the final border,two hundred roses from the studentsgrateful for your help in ’68,and other episodes I’ll never know,the kiss of a girl who didn’t become my mother,the fear and sweet gooseberries of childhood, images drawnfrom that calm abyss before I was.Your memory works in the quiet apartment—in silence,Systematically, you struggle to retrieve for an instantYour painful century.” By the time Zagajewski returns to Lvov after his family’s exile, the very buildings weigh on the individual, silencing and smothering protest, echoes of the barracks used to house Poland’s many prisoners of war. A nostalgia for a past he himself did not experience is evinced by the juxtaposition of the “whistling bombs” to the gleaming green glow of Maples and the sound of sparrows, of life going on in spite of war. The sense of being apart from history is repeated again and again: “other episodes I’ll never know,” “the kiss of a girl who didn’t become my mother,” “The calm abyss before I was,” and the final, distancing, disowning gesture: “Your painful century.” It is in this last, accusing phrase, that some of the old anger comes to the surface. The generation of ’68 around the globe felt an insurmountable distance between themselves and the lives of their parents, and this poem is partly a manifestation of this inaccessibility. Yet the very act of recording his father’s memories—which we can assume would otherwise have continued to be replayed in the “quiet apartment,” “in silence”— is a testament to the role of the poet, and the Polish poet in particular. Zagajewski actively inherits the mantle of Milocz, the weight of his country’s history on his shoulders.Adam Zagajewski was born in Lvov in 1945. His previous books include Tremor; Canvas; Mysticism for Beginners; Without End; Solidarity, Solitude; Two Cities; Another Beauty; and A Defense of Ardor—all published by FSG. He lives in Paris and Houston.

  • Iris
    2019-04-24 01:06

    "The territory of truthis plainly small, narrow as a path above a cliff.Can you stickto it?"PS: Someone said that reading poetry in translation is like kissing a woman through a veil. I have the feeling that the veil of here was quite thick, and that I would have given the book more points if I had read it in Polish.

  • Nathan
    2019-05-07 04:35

    Ok... hmm... so...this may not be my favorite Zagajewski collection? But, I'll just say it: I'm a fan. Really.This book is quiet. Will not "come after you." But if you go after it, and if you're willingto spend the energy, there is gold in here.Just s l o w d o w n . . .

  • Carolin
    2019-05-03 23:07

    Zagajewski is in my opinion the better and dark version of Szymborska. This collection takes us to different places and accompanies us in a beautiful language. It includes a wide range of poems, all connected to locations and enchanting with the charm of old buildings where the painting already comes down a little and old trams squeaking when turning around a corner.

  • Amanda Carver
    2019-04-23 22:08

    This would be four stars all the way MINUS ABOUT 30 PAGES of not-great poems that couldn't at all stand with the great poems. Seriously, poets--80 pages should be the UPPER LIMIT. 116 is slightly obscene.

  • Sue
    2019-05-02 00:14

    although Zagajewski isn't really very well known, I think he is one of the best poets alive. He is clear, precise & always current. His latest collection is filled with poems about cities, places, friends & important poets & writers.

  • Iris
    2019-05-13 23:20

    Zagajewski takes your hand, leading you to an effervescent sort of calm place; his poems are spare and warm, intelligent and sensory. A beautiful volume of short voyages (few of these poems surpass one page). Clare Cavanagh finesses the translation.

  • Angelin
    2019-05-25 00:34

    a wonderful collection of poetry that I thoroughly enjoyed. every single poem was laced with deep thoughts and meaning that I find simply beautiful. I did not expect myself to be so drawn into his poetry, it is definitely a collection that I'll go back to on good days, bad days... any day.

  • Agatha Donkar
    2019-05-21 03:07

    Whoever does the collection development for the CHPL's poetry is A+ at it -- I tend to only read poetry off the new books shelf, and there hasn't been a bad collection.

  • Frank
    2019-04-24 20:28

    Zagajewski's poems keep me rapt. He write a lot about cities and streets and location is this one, which is kind of his thing, but as always he delivers some amazing poetry.

  • Simona
    2019-04-30 03:25

    My favorite of his to date. This book felt like such a cohesive whole, a perfectly contained paradigm where I made every leap he wanted me to make.

  • Abby
    2019-05-15 02:21

    I bought this one at poetry bookshop in Boston. The saleswoman told me that Polish men are just as inexplicably alluring as the Polish poets.

  • Deniss
    2019-05-16 04:24

    NEW YEAR’S EVE, 2004 You’re at home listening to recordings of Billie Holiday, who sings on, melancholy, drowsy. You count the hours still keeping you from midnight. Why do the dead sing peacefully while the living can’t free themselvesfrom fear?

  • Tyler Malone
    2019-05-16 00:09

    With all my soul -- read those words, and if they have the power to convince you of anything, then maybe you'll enjoy Eternal Enemies. Okay, with all my soul, I wanted to enjoy this collection. So, in good poetic faith, I'll give those book another read. Reading poetry aloud shouldn't bore you, and some of the lines have true, condensed power. Maybe I'm just tired of reading poetic allusions to classic music, composers, aural power. But:Poetry--how to put it?--makes life rounder,fuller, prouder, unashamedof perfect formulation."Reading Milosz," P.40Eternal Enemies does none of that, I'm sorry to say. It bored me. But, with all my soul, I'll read it again.

  • Isla McKetta
    2019-05-03 01:26

    "We don't, we can't know, / if we'll be saved, / if our microscopic souls, / which have committed no evil / and likewise done no good, / will answer a question posed in an unknown tongue."A lovely book. This covers more quotidian happenings and less of his historical commentary that I so deeply love, but the poetry is there. It merits a re-read, for as Zagajewski writes, "If only we read poetry as carefully as menus in expensive restaurants..."

  • Natalie
    2019-04-30 20:36

    I will admit that I am not completely finished reading this; I probably have 10 poems left to read. I was disappointed with this book. I love Zagajewski, but I would say 70% of these need editing. Many of the poems could be awesome, but they're peppered with trite language. If you have read Zagajewski before, I recommend starting with one of his earlier books.

  • Danny Daley
    2019-05-23 23:19

    I bought this book on a whim, as I often do with poetry, and was engrossed with a few of the poems. However, the collection was inconsistent, and I became bored making my way through the collection.

  • Dewey
    2019-04-26 00:15

    Very good poetry! Lucid but meaningful, and well translated. Zagajewski is a qualitative poet who deserves a Nobel Prize. Not only poetry readers but aspiring poets themselves can learn something from Zagajewski and should try to learn something.

  • D. Pow
    2019-05-03 02:26

    2nd reading

  • Ami
    2019-05-03 01:16

    Gorgeous. Well worth the wait from his last book.