Joseph Brodsky

Joseph Brodsky Biography

Joseph Brodsky was born in 1940, in Leningrad, and began writing poetry when he was eighteen. Anna Akhmatova soon recognized in the young poet the most gifted lyric voice of his generation. From March 1964 until November 1965, Brodsky lived in exile in the Arkhangelsk region of northern Russia; he had been sentenced to five years in exile at hard labor for "social parasitism," but did not serve out his term.

Four of Brodsky's poems were published in Leningrad anthologies in 1966 and 1967, but most of his work has appeared only in the West. He is a splendid poetic translator and has translated into Russian, among others, the English metaphysical poets, and the Polish emigre poet, Czeslaw Milosz. His own poetry has been translated into at least ten languages. Joseph Brodsky: Selected Poems was published by Penguin Books in London (1973), and by Harper & Row in New York (1974), translated by George L. Kline and with a foreword by W.H. Auden. A volume of Brodsky's selected poems translated in French has been published by Gallimard; a German translation, by Piper Verlag; and an Italian translation, by Mondadori and Adelphi. Farrar, Straus, and Giroux published Brodsky's acclaimed collection, A Part of Speech, in 1980.

On June 4, 1972, Joseph Brodsky became an involuntary exile from his native country. After brief stays in Vienna and London, he came to the United States. He has been Poet-in-Residence and Visiting Professor at the University of Michigan, Queens College, Smith College, Columbia University, and Cambridge University in England. He currently is Five College Professor of Literature at Mount Holyoke College. In 1978, Brodsky was awarded an honorary degree of Doctor of Letters at Yale University, and on May 23, 1979, he was inducted as a member of the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters. In 1981, Brodsky was a recipient of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation's award for his works of "genius".

In 1986, Farrar, Straus, and Giroux published Less Than One, a collection of Mr. Brodsky's essays on the arts and politics, which won the National Book Critic's Award for Criticism.
In 1988 Farrar, Straus, and Giroux published a collection of his poetry, To Urania, and in 1992 a collection of essays about Venice, Watermark.

The Best Poem Of Joseph Brodsky

A Song

I wish you were here, dear,
I wish you were here.
I wish you sat on the sofa
and I sat near.
The handkerchief could be yours,
the tear could be mine, chin-bound.
Though it could be, of course,
the other way around.

I wish you were here, dear,
I wish you were here.
I wish we were in my car
and you'd shift the gear.
We'd find ourselves elsewhere,
on an unknown shore.
Or else we'd repair
to where we've been before.

I wish you were here, dear,
I wish you were here.
I wish I knew no astronomy
when stars appear,
when the moon skims the water
that sighs and shifts in its slumber.
I wish it were still a quarter
to dial your number.

I wish you were here, dear,
in this hemisphere,
as I sit on the porch
sipping a beer.
It's evening, the sun is setting;
boys shout and gulls are crying.
What's the point of forgetting
if it's followed by dying?

Joseph Brodsky Comments

To refuse the folk is a tradition long, but, to refuse a foreign folk is a tradition ever.

1 1 Reply
Liza Sudina 12 September 2015

GENIUS! My favorite poet! ! !

3 2 Reply
Jay Warier 25 July 2009

What a beautiful poem 'A Song' is!

13 4 Reply
Jay Warier 25 July 2009

What a beautiful poem 'A Song' is!

9 5 Reply

Joseph Brodsky Quotes

The surest defense against Evil is extreme individualism, originality of thinking, whimsicality, even—if you will—eccentricity. That is, something that can't be feigned, faked, imitated; something even a seasoned imposter couldn't be happy with.

A poet is a combination of an instrument and a human being in one person, with the former gradually taking over the latter. The sensation of this takeover is responsible for timbre; the realization of it, for destiny.

Snobbery? But it's only a form of despair.

The delirium and horror of the East. The dusty catastrophe of Asia. Green only on the banner of the Prophet. Nothing grows here except mustaches.

Racism? But isn't it only a form of misanthropy?

The poetic notion of infinity is far greater than that which is sponsored by any creed.

After all, it is hard to master both life and work equally well. So if you are bound to fake one of them, it had better be life.

For the poet the credo or doctrine is not the point of arrival but is, on the contrary, the point of departure for the metaphysical journey.

The real history of consciousness starts with one's first lie.

What should I say about life? That's it's long and abhors transparence.

Tragedy, as you know, is always a fait accompli, whereas terror always has to do with anticipation, with man's recognition of his own negative potential—with his sense of what he is capable of.

There are worse crimes than burning books. One of them is not reading them.

After having exhausted all the arguments on behalf of evil, one utters the creed's dictums with nostalgia rather than with fervor.

Every writing career starts as a personal quest for sainthood, for self-betterment. Sooner or later, and as a rule quite soon, a man discovers that his pen accomplishes a lot more than his soul.

Every individual ought to know at least one poet from cover to cover: if not as a guide through the world, then as a yardstick for the language.

It would be enough for me to have the system of a jury of twelve versus the system of one judge as a basis for preferring the U.S. to the Soviet Union.... I would prefer the country you can leave to the country you cannot.

Joseph Brodsky Popularity

Joseph Brodsky Popularity

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