Polish poet, prose writer and translator of Lithuanian origin and subsequent American citizenship. His World War II-era sequence The World is a collection of 20 "naive" poems. He defected to the West in 1951, and his nonfiction book "The Captive Mind" (1953) is a classic of anti-Stalinism. From 1961 to 1998 he was a professor of Slavic Languages and Literatures at the University of California, Berkeley. In 1980 he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature.
Czesław Miłosz was born on June 30, 1911 in the village of Šeteniai (Kėdainiai district, Kaunas County) on the border between two Lithuanian historical regions of Samogitia and Aukštaitija in ... more »
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Czeslaw Milosz Poems
Human reason is beautiful and invincible. No bars, no barbed wire, no pulping of books, No sentence of banishment can prevail against it. It establishes the universal ideas in language,
I have always aspired to a more spacious form that would be free from the claims of poetry or prose and would let us understand each other without exposing the author or reader to sublime agonies.
At a Certain Age
We wanted to confess our sins but there were no takers. White clouds refused to accept them, and the wind Was too busy visiting sea after sea. We did not succeed in interesting the animals.
Love means to learn to look at yourself The way one looks at distant things For you are only one thing among many. And whoever sees that way heals his heart,
Conversation with Jeanne
Let us not talk philosophy, drop it, Jeanne. So many words, so much paper, who can stand it. I told you the truth about my distancing myself. I've stopped worrying about my misshapen life.
Child of Europe
1 We, whose lungs fill with the sweetness of day. Who in May admire trees flowering Are better than those who perished.
In Black Despair
In grayish doubt and black despair, I drafted hymns to the earth and the air, pretending to joy, although I lacked it. The age had made lament redundant.
I Sleep a Lot
I sleep a lot and read St. Thomas Aquinas Or The Death of God (that's a Protestant book). To the right the bay as if molten tin, Beyond the bay, city, beyond the city, ocean,
A Poem For the End of the Century
When everything was fine And the notion of sin had vanished And the earth was ready In universal peace
We were riding through frozen fields in a wagon at dawn. A red wing rose in the darkness. And suddenly a hare ran across the road.
Campo di Fiori
In Rome on the Campo di Fiori Baskets of olives and lemons, Cobbles spattered with wine And the wreckage of flowers.
You whom I could not save Listen to me. Try to understand this simple speech as I would be ashamed of another. I swear, there is in me no wizardry of words.
And Yet The Books
And yet the books will be there on the shelves, separate beings, That appeared once, still wet As shining chestnuts under a tree in autumn, And, touched, coddled, began to live
The road led straight to the temple. Notre Dame, though not Gothic at all. The huge doors were closed. I chose one on the side, Not to the main building-to its left wing,
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Human reason is beautiful and invincible.
No bars, no barbed wire, no pulping of books,
No sentence of banishment can prevail against it.
It establishes the universal ideas in language,
And guides our hand so we write Truth and Justice
With capital letters, lie and oppression with small.
It puts what should be above things as they are,
Is an enemy of despair and a friend of hope.
It does not know Jew from Greek or slave from master,
Giving us the estate of the world to manage.
It saves austere and transparent phrases
From the filthy discord of tortured ...