cover image Nativity Poems

Nativity Poems

Joseph Brodsky. Farrar Straus Giroux, $16 (160pp) ISBN 978-0-374-21940-6

Beginning when he ""first took up writing poems seriously,"" former U.S. poet laureate Joseph Brodsky, who died in 1996 at age 56, wrote a Christmas poem each year. Of the 18 Nativity Poems of this holiday collection, 10 are previously untranslated, and are presented bilingually. Among the renderers are Seamus Heaney, Anthony Hecht, Paul Muldoon, Derek Walcott, Richard Wilbur and Brodsky himself. Glyn Maxwell's excellent version of ""Speech over Spilt Milk"" finds ""God/ has lighted in the blue immense/ the planets, icon lamps to glow/ before the face we cannot know./ What's poetry but a review/ of the existing evidence."" (Nov.)