cover image To Urania: Poems

To Urania: Poems

Joseph Brodsky. Farrar Straus Giroux, $14.95 (184pp) ISBN 978-0-374-17253-4

An autumnal mood pervades these verses from the exiled Soviet poet and Nobel laureate. ``Life is the sum of trifling motions,'' observes Brodsky. In ironic, well-made lyrics he broods on being middle-aged and measures the abyss between ideals and reality. The pointlessness of existence is conveyed in his description of the Earth: ``A sphere in space without markers/ spins and spins.'' Some poems are political; ``The Berlin Wall Tune'' wickedly lampoons the regimented mentality that holds up the Iron Curtain. Brodsky experiments with a variety of forms: ``Twenty Sonnets to Mary Queen of Scots,'' ``Lithuanian Nocturne,'' a carol, philosophical dialogues, vignettes of a damp, wintry Venice, a Baltic blizzard, a Polar expedition. New poems are intermixed with the poet's translations of his verses written during the past 14 years. (July)