Czeslaw Milosz

(30 June 1911 – 14 August 2004 / Kedainiai)

Incantation


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 words.
It says that everything is new under the sun,
Opens the congealed fist of the past.
Beautiful and very young are Philo-Sophia
And poetry, her ally in the service of the good.
As late as yesterday Nature celebrated their birth,
The news was brought to the mountains by a unicorn and an echo.
Their friendship will be glorious, their time has no limit.
Their enemies have delivered themselves to destruction.

Submitted: Friday, January 03, 2003

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  • Rookie - 29 Points Colleen Courtney (7/4/2014 8:25:00 AM)

    The news was brought to the mountains by a Unicorn and an echo. How glorious is this line! This is poem is filled with such hope! I do believe there is a world such as this out there somewhere......definitely being added to my list of favorites! (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 0 Points Otteri Selvakumar (7/4/2013 1:40:00 PM)

    Opens the congealed fist of the past.
    Beautiful and very young are Philo-Sophia
    And poetry, her ally in the service of the good.
    As late as yesterday Nature celebrated their birth,
    The news was brought to the mountains by a unicorn and an echo. well writing (Report) Reply

  • Freshman - 1,467 Points Babatunde Aremu (7/4/2013 5:41:00 AM)

    Great poem! I am of the opinion that most times lies are celebrated on more than truth in capital than small letters. A very ironic poem. Simply amazing thought (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 43 Points Miroslava Odalovic (7/4/2012 12:41:00 PM)

    Was struck by this optimism as well and couldn't believe my eyes. Nothing like Milosz indeed.
    As a matter of fact
    It saves austere and transparent phrases
    From the filthy discord of tortured words.

    reminded me of 'honest inteligetia' concept (just a personal association) . This is indeed a highly complex writing with a 20th century circumference...so nothing new under the sun? (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Doris Voina (1/15/2012 8:05:00 AM)

    This poem is highly ironic. Actually, this is Milosz's irony at its best.
    I think the actual meaning of incantation here is probably 'series of many words, that hide lack of content'. Milosz's praise of human reason here is absolutely contrary to what his philosophy endorses... look up Lev Shestov's works. it's indeed interesting :) (Report) Reply

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