A book of luminous things : an international anthology of poetry

by Czesław Miłosz

Paper Book, 1996




New York : Harcourt Brace & Co., c1996.


For A Book of Luminous Things Nobel laureate poet Czeslaw Milosz has selected 300 of the world's greatest poems written throughout the ages, poems memorable for how they render the realities of the world palpable and immediate. They are organized under eleven headings - including "Epiphany," "Nature," "The Secret of a Thing," "Travel," "Places," and "The Moment." In addition to his introduction, Milosz contributes brief, penetrating commentary on each poet. Among the.Poets included are Elizabeth Bishop, William Blake, Joseph Brodsky, Constantinos Cavafy, Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost, Allen Ginsberg, Linda Gregg, Seamus Heaney, Zbigniew Herbert, Jane Hirshfield, Robinson Jeffers, D.H. Lawrence, Denise Levertov, Philip Levine, Li Po, Antonio Machado, Thomas Merton, W.S. Merwin, Sharon Olds, Mary Oliver, Po Chu-I, Rainer Maria Rilke, Theodore Roethke, Charles Simic, Gary Snyder, Wallace Stevens, May Swenson, Anna Swir, Wislawa.Szymborska, Tu Fu, Wang Wei, Walt Whitman, and William Carlos Williams.… (more)

User reviews

LibraryThing member ellahill
Academic-style poetry anthologies contain all the important poems ever written. Ever. They make good reference books but aren't great for general reading. Conversely, Milosz said he selected poems for this anthology that are "short, clear, readable...they undermine the widely held opinion that poetry is a misty domain eluding understanding." He skipped the "intellectual," "scholarly," and "important" labels and picked poems that speak to him personally. As a result, the reader doesn't feel burdened to read or obligated to uncover some hidden meaning. This book is accessible without being facile.

The section themes, like "Nature," "Epiphany," and "People Among People," along with their short descriptions, add to the reading experience without being overbearing. The selections are diverse, ranging from 11th Century Chinese poets to Alan Ginsberg and from anonymous Eskimos to Walt Whitman. You'll re-read classics in a new light and stumble across some new favorites. Whether you're a poetry scholar or were scarred by high school English class, the 300 poems are a joy to read. Luminous Things is a great book to keep on your nightstand or desk, where you can flip through it and read a poem at random.
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LibraryThing member jhhymas
This is one of the best anthologies ever assembled! When my brother was dying, he kept only three of his books and gave the rest away. This was one of the three on his bedside table.
LibraryThing member MusicMom41
A truly international collection, this book contains wonderful, accessible poems with an emphasis on excellent poets that aren't household names, although many of my favorite 20th century poets represented. Walt Whitman is also well represented and I'm reminded that I must really reread LEAVES OF GRASS soon. I was especially pleased with so many entries from ancient Asian (especially Chinese) poets, an area with which I am not as familiar.

The poems are grouped by categories such as People, Places, Travel, etc. and Milosz has an introductory comment on most of them. I preferred to read the poem before I read the comment so I could compare my reaction to his. Now that I have read the entire collection, I would like to have 2 copies--one for my guest room bookshelf and one to keep in my night table when I want to find something soothing and lovely to read before falling asleep.
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LibraryThing member Summersoldier
Not my favorite anthology but great nonetheless.
LibraryThing member dbsovereign
A wonderful collection of poetry. Some of it shimmers...
LibraryThing member stixnstones004
I don't write many reviews, but this book needs one. It's odd to have an editor of an anthology put so much personal commentary into it, but I have no problem with that in and of itself. What I have a problem with is a white, male author/editor consistently denigrating female poets even as he includes them in his anthology. He qualifies every compliment with its opposite, such as when Milosz praises Linda Gregg as one of America's best poets but then follows it up with his being "biased" since she attended his classes, to which I'm assuming he's implying that she learned such greatness from him? Even if I'm reading too deeply into that, the way in which Milosz objectifies women in general by having a section entitled "Woman's Skin" alongside others such as "Nature," "Places," and "Travel" (tell me, which one doesn't belong?) is pretty infuriating even before one realizes that one of the first poems in said section is written by a man who is reflecting in the first-person on the difficulty of women aging or in another poem's commentary where he claims that women's bellies are "emotionally different" to men's. Moreover, Milosz claims that "in some epochs of history women took an active part in literary life..." as if we have not existed as artists and writers THROUGHOUT history. I would have given this book no stars, but many of the poems included are quality, despite their unfortunate election by an obvious misogynist. Mr. Milosz, I know you're dead, but go fuck yourself.… (more)
LibraryThing member jwhenderson
A marvelous anthology with selections that engage the reader with joy and wonder. No wonder that the editor is Czeslaw Milosz who uses his own genius to guide the reader. In his introductory essay he reminds readers of the importance of poetry and then selects poetry that helps each of us understand what he meant by that.… (more)


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