5 Poems by Joseph Brodsky



Joseph Brodsky (1940-1996)

“There are no depths. Appearance is the summary of phenomena.” -Joseph Brodsky [1]

Joseph Brodsky was born May 24, 1940 in Leningrad. His father was a photographer and his mother was an interpreter. Brodsky said he grew up surrounded by anti-semitism. [2] He worked a variety of jobs in varied industries including in a milling machine factory, in a morgue at a prison, in hospitals, and on geological expeditions. [3] He first became interested in poetry at 19 when he picked up a book of poems by Evgeny Abromovich Baratynsky. [4]

A newspaper in Leningrad labeled Brodsky’s poetry “pornographic and anti-Soviet” in 1963. He was put in a mental institution and finally arrested for “parasitism” and put on trial. He was found guilty and sentenced to five years hard labor, however his sentence was shortened to eighteen months. [5]

He was expelled from the Soviet Union in 1972 and settled in Ann Arbor Michigan with the help of W. H. Auden. [6] He became a US citizen in 1977 and US poet laureate in 1991. He won the Nobel Prize in literature in 1987. [7]

Brodsky was reported in the New York Times to have been ill for many years before his death at 55 on January 28, 1996 from a heart attack. [8]

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Text of poems read
Odysseus to Telemachus
http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/15205

I threw my arms about those shoulders
http://oldpoetry.com/opoem/24508-Joseph-Brodsky-I-threw-my-arms-about-those-shoulders

A Song
http://www.poemhunter.com/i/ebooks/pdf/joseph_brodsky_2004_9.pdf

Letter to an Archaeologist
http://www.poemhunter.com/i/ebooks/pdf/joseph_brodsky_2004_9.pdf

I Sit by the Window

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Sources and Notes
[1] Nick Watson interview with Joseph Brodsky in The Argonist magazine 1996
http://www.argotistonline.co.uk/Brodsky%20interview.htm

[2] Wikipedia: Joseph Brodsky from New York Times, January 29, 1996
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Brodsky

[3] [4] Wikipedia: Joseph Brodsky
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Brodsky

[5] [6] [7] [8] York Times, January 29, 1996 Joseph Brodsky Exiled Poet Who Won Nobel, Dies at 55
http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9F07E6DE1039F93AA15752C0A960958260&sec=&spon=&pagewanted=1

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6 thoughts on “5 Poems by Joseph Brodsky

  • November 8, 2017 at 12:45 am
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    Great commentary, Gregory! Only the translations are from the poet himself. You can also say that Brodsky genius has not reached such heights in English as in his native Russian.

    Reply
  • November 8, 2017 at 12:45 am
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    Inaccurate traslations – way too long and explanatory. As any suprime piece of literature Brodsky's poetry is condensed, and the compressed imagery unfolds in the course of a poem. The translator, sadly, reaches the opposit effect: metaphorical density gets diluted with redundant explanations.

    Reply

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