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Sunday October 22, 2017
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Adam Zagajewski

 

continued

His most recent book in English takes its title, Eternal Enemies, from a poem written to celebrate marriage-"Only in marriage do love and time,/eternal enemies, join forces." It's hard to imagine an American poet comfortable with that emotion, that kind of statement, or that level of abstraction. Another poem, "The Greeks," starts with a large historical and literary allusion, moves into the poet's personal history of childhood under the dour and fearful presence of Stalin, and then ends on an ecstatic moment that sounds a little bit like William Carlos Williams at his most exuberant:

I would have liked to live among the Greeks,

talk with Sophocles' disciples,

learn the rites of secret mysteries,

but when I was born the pockmarked

Georgian still lived and reigned,

with his grim henchmen and theories.

Those were years of memory and grief,

of sober talks and silence;

there was little joy-







although a few birds didn't know this,

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