Joseph Brodsky

(24 May 1940 – 28 January 1996 / Leningrad)

Joseph Brodsky Quotes

  • ''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.''
    Joseph Brodsky (b. 1940), Russian-born U.S. poet, critic. "On Grief and Reason," The New Yorker (September 26, 1994).
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  • ''There are worse crimes than burning books. One of them is not reading them.''
    Joseph Brodsky (b. 1940), Russian-born-U.S. poet, critic. At press conference, Washington, D.C., on acceptance of U.S. poet laureateship. Quoted in Independent on Sunday (London, May 19, 1991).
  • ''After having exhausted all the arguments on behalf of evil, one utters the creed's dictums with nostalgia rather than with fervor.''
    Joseph Brodsky (b. 1940), Russian-born-U.S. poet, critic. (First published 1980). "The Power of the Elements," Less Than One: Selected Essays (1986).
  • ''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.''
    Joseph Brodsky (b. 1940), Russian-born U.S. poet, critic. "The Power of the Elements," Less Than One: Selected Essays (first publ. 1980, repr. 1986).
  • ''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.''
    Joseph Brodsky (b. 1940), Russian-born U.S. poet, critic. (Essay written 1983). "To Please a Shadow," sct. 5, Less Than One: Selected Essays (1986). Brodsky recommended W.H. Auden as qualified on both counts.
  • ''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 (b. 1940), Russian-born-U.S. poet, critic. Writers at Work, Eighth Series, ed. George Plimpton (1988). Brodsky was "asked" to leave the U.S.S.R. in 1972.

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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, ...

Read the full of A Song

Odysseus To Telemachus

My dear Telemachus,
The Trojan War
is over now; I don't recall who won it.
The Greeks, no doubt, for only they would leave
so many dead so far from their own homeland.
But still, my homeward way has proved too long.
While we were wasting time there, old Poseidon,
it almost seems, stretched and extended space.

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