SECOND SPACE

Czeslaw Milosz, Author, Robert Hass, Translator . Ecco $23.95 (102p) ISBN 978-0-06-074566-0

The title's second space comprises heaven and hell, which have "vanished forever"; without them the blessed cannot "meet salvation" and the damned "find suitable quarters." In mourning, the poet exhorts: "Let us implore that it be returned to us,/ That second space." The Nobel laureate, who died this past summer in Kraków at 93, is preoccupied in this collection with establishing that space through words, but also finds it in carnality and in "the unattainable Now." The opening section of summative short lyrics on themes familiar from late Milosz (memory, salvation, place) is followed by four long poems. "Father Severinus" is an eponymous 11-poem dramatic monologue of a priest (who shares one of the names of medieval philosopher Boethius) in whom there is "only a hope of hope." Next comes "Treatise on Theology" ("A young man couldn't write a treatise like this,/ Though I don't think it is dictated by fear of death"), followed by "Apprentice," a beautiful autobiography in verse (with extensive prose annotations by Milosz) and finally a stunning, short "Orpheus and Eurydice": "His lyre was silent and in his dream he was defenseless./ He knew he must have faith and he could not have faith./ And so he would persist, for a very long time,/ Counting his steps in a half-wakeful torpor." The terrors, torpors and partial redemptions of this collection feel wholly earned. (Oct.)

Reviewed on: 10/18/2004
Release date: 10/01/2004
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 112 pages - 978-0-06-075524-9
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