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The first English-language collection of poems by this major Flemish writer, Greetings contains work from more than six decades of Hugo Claus's career. Uncompromising and irreverent, Claus writes about postwar politics and society, about race and class, love and sex, art and literature. This volume is sure to appeal to anyone interested in the avant-garde of the last half-century-and to anyone interested in poetry that continues to be provocative, pertinent, and compelling.
Year of atrocities, year of cathode-ray tube and stock market report,
Year of milk and honey if you're asleep,
Year that sticks in your stomach if you're awake,
Sweet year, good year for sleepwalkers . . .
Year that freezes the smile.
It was in that year I went to live in a village
with books, a wife and a child
who grows
while I talk about the tigers in the East.
- F R O M " 1 9 6 5 "
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Product details

  • Hardback | 131 pages
  • 142.2 x 205.7 x 20.3mm | 249.48g
  • United States
  • English
  • 0151009007
  • 9780151009008

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Hugo Claus has been a leading figure in postwar European literature for many years. Acclaimed for his novel about wartime Flanders, The Sorrow of Belgium, he is also a painter, playwright, essayist, and poet. And it is of the writing of poetry that he has said "it is the most mysterious, disturbing, and adventurous experience I know." Here, at last, in English, is a collection of Claus's poems from the past five decades.
From a poem about the soul to a poem about a toy train, from a passionate series of love lyrics to a set of notes for "Genesis I.1," Claus shows remarkable range. He remains attentive to the unusual image and the unfamiliar sound: "Your words come with the crooked walk/Of the tortoise up to me," he writes in "A Rendezvous"; and then, "Day sits in its cage, /And I sit in my shirt" in "Exercises." He has continually redefined the avant-garde in his fifty years of work, challenging sexual, political, and artistic taboos. His own words best describe his power as a poet:
Then you came
and since then I am
short of hands and eyes
and tongue-tied.
(from "Summer") An invaluable introduction to a major world poet.
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Back cover copy

The child strangles a little crow
Fingers make their groping ways
The dew makes the rubble glow
The dune is all ablaze
The hours chase each other
The days shorten with each season
The weeks catch up with one another
The months wilt and wither
The year is slighter than a butterfly
Slighter than the spider that brings
Evening hope and morning rue
Everywhere all of this because of you.
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