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Second Space: New Poems    by Czeslaw Milosz order for
Second Space
by Czeslaw Milosz
Order:  USA  Can
Ecco, 2004 (2004)

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* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Czeslaw Milosz, who won the 1980 Nobel Prize in Literature, died in 2004. Though this slim anthology, Second Space, presents the verses of his old age, many a celebrated younger poet would be proud to have written them. I am embarrassed to admit that I had not read this eminent author's work before, and will seek more of his books. I found his style similar to that of poet Robert Graves. They both write with a spare clarity.

In Second Space, Milosz explores the inconveniences of ageing and the last big questions of life - why would a higher being countenance atrocity, and what comes after? Here are some of his verses that especially spoke to me. On his blurring vision, he tells us that 'Without eyes, my gaze is fixed on one bright point, / That grows large and takes me in.' In 'On Old Women' who have seen and suffered too much, the poet hopes for them that 'May the day of your death not be a day of hopelessness, but of trust in the light that shines through earthly forms.' Milosz's final verses often reflect a struggle of faith, but they just as frequently soar on wings of hope - I love his 'Orpheus and Eurydice', including 'He sang of smoking water in the rose-colored daybreaks ... Of the scent of an armful of lilacs in summer rain, / Of his having composed his words always against death / And of having made no rhyme in praise of nothingness.'

Czeslaw Milosz speaks of moments that 'lifted me above my lameness' - 'amazements, at a sun-streak on a wall, at the trill of an oriole, a face, an iris, a volume of poems'. His last volume of poems has indeed amazed me, his reader. There is no lameness in this great soul, and I highly commend Second Space to you.

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