Gods and Mortals: Modern Poems on Classical Myths by Nina Kossman
English | Mar 22, 2001 | ISBN: 0195133412 | 320 Pages | PDF | 9,8 MB
For centuries, poets have looked into the mirror of classical myth to show us the many ways our emotional lives are still reflected in the ancient stories of heroism, hubris, transformation, and loss that myths so eloquently tell. Now, in Gods and Mortals: Modern Poems on Classical Myths, we have the first anthology to gather the great 20th century myth-inspired poems from around the world.
"Perhaps it is because the myths echo the structure of our unconscious that every new generation of poets finds them a source of inspiration and self-recognition," says Nina Kossman in her introduction to this marvelous collection. Indeed, from Valery, Yeats, Lawrence, Rilke, Akhmatova, and Auden writing in the first half of the century to such contemporary poets as Lucille Clifton, Derek Walcott, Rita Dove, Wislawa Szymborska, and Mark Strand, the material of Greek myth has elicited a poetry of remarkably high achievement. And by organizing the poems first into broad categories such as "Heroes," "Lovers," "Trespassers," and secondly around particular mythological figures such as Persephone, Orpheus, or Narcissus, readers are treated to a fascinating spectrum of poems on the same subject. For example, the section on Odysseus includes poems by Cavafy, W. S. Merwin, Gregory Corso, Gabriel Zaid, Louise Gluck, Wallace Stevens, and many others. Thus we are allowed to see the familiar Greek hero refracted through the eyes, and sharply varying stylistic approaches, of a wide range of poets from around the world.
Here, then, is a collection of extraordinary poems that testifies to–and amply rewards–our ongoing fascination with classical myth.
The gods and goddesses of ancient Greece truly are immortal. Dwelling in our collective unconscious, they are emblematic in their weaknesses and strengths, folly and cunning, lust and love both tragic and transcendent of all that is human and divine. Archetypes and familiars, they surface repeatedly in poetry, and Kossman, a translator and poet, has selected more than 300 outstanding twentieth-century poems from around the world, each of which offers provocative portraits of these metaphor-emblazoned figures and bold interpretations of their stories. The range of voices and styles is exciting, and her gathering of poems beneath such headings as "Lovers," "Heroes," and "Transformations," and within chapters devoted to figures such as Prometheus and Demeter, make for striking juxtapositions. Zeus, for instance, inspired Rainer Maria Rilke, Robert Graves, D. H. Lawrence, William Butler Yeats, Lucille Clifton, Frank O'Hara, Osip Mandelstam, Derek Walcott, and the Greek poet Yannis Ritsos. In other chapters, poets such as Wislawa Szymborska, Mark Strand, and Denise Levertov masterfully explore the drama and irony inherent in Greek myths, indelible tales that continue to shape our perceptions. –Donna Seaman
"Gods And Mortals is a fascinating collection of poems that brings together the classic and the contemporary, the 'old' and the 'new,' in unexpected and startling ways. Nina Kossman has brought together a richly imaginative gathering of memorable work."–Joyce Carol Oates