Czeslaw Milosz

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.
...

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.
...

4.

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,
...

1
We, whose lungs fill with the sweetness of day.
Who in May admire trees flowering
Are better than those who perished.
...

The history of my stupidity would fill many volumes.

Some would be devoted to acting against consciousness,
Like the flight of a moth which, had it known,
...

Burning, he walks in the stream of flickering letters, clarinets,
machines throbbing quicker than the heart, lopped-off heads, silk
canvases, and he stops under the sky
...

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
...

In Rome on the Campo di Fiori
Baskets of olives and lemons,
Cobbles spattered with wine
And the wreckage of flowers.
...

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.
...

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,
...

When everything was fine
And the notion of sin had vanished
And the earth was ready
In universal peace
...

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.
...

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.
...

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.
...

16.

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,
...

17.

Forget the suffering
You caused others.
Forget the suffering
Others caused you.
...

18.

In fear and trembling, I think I would fulfill my life
Only if I brought myself to make a public confession
Revealing a sham, my own and of my epoch:
We were permitted to shriek in the tongue of dwarfs and
...

"There where that ray touches the plain
And the shadows escape as if they really ran,
Warsaw stands, open from all sides,
A city not very old but quite famous.
...

20.

Maidenly lake, fathomless lake,
Stay as you were once, overgrown with rushes,
Idling with a reflected cloud, for my sake
Whom your shore no longer touches.
...

Czeslaw Milosz Biography

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. Life 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 central Lithuania (then part of Russian empire). He was a son of Aleksander Miłosz, a civil engineer, and Weronika, née Kunat. His brother, Andrzej Miłosz (1917–2002), a Polish journalist, translator of literature and of film subtitles into Polish, was a documentary-film producer who created some Polish documentaries about his famous brother. Miłosz emphasized his identity with the multi-ethnic Grand Duchy of Lithuania, a stance that led to ongoing controversies; he refused to categorically identify himself as either a Pole or a Lithuanian. He once said of himself: "I am a Lithuanian to whom it was not given to be a Lithuanian." Milosz was fluent in Polish, Lithuanian, Russian, English and French. Miłosz memorialized his Lithuanian childhood in a 1981 novel, The Issa Valley, and in the 1959 memoir Native Realm. After graduating from Sigismund Augustus Gymnasium in Vilnius, he studied law at Stefan Batory University and in 1931 he traveled to Paris, where he was influenced by his distant cousin Oscar Milosz, a French poet of Lithuanian descent and a Swedenborgian. His first volume of poetry was published in 1934. After receiving his law degree that year, he again spent a year in Paris on a fellowship. Upon returning, he worked as a commentator at Radio Wilno, but was dismissed for his leftist views. Miłosz wrote all his poetry, fiction and essays in Polish and translated the Old Testament Psalms into Polish. Miłosz spent World War II in Warsaw, under Nazi Germany's "General Government," where, among other things, he attended underground lectures by Polish philosopher and historian of philosophy and aesthetics, Władysław Tatarkiewicz. He did not participate in the Warsaw Uprising due to residing outside Warsaw proper. After World War II, Miłosz served as cultural attaché of the communist People's Republic of Poland in Paris. In 1951 he defected and obtained political asylum in France. In 1953 he received the Prix Littéraire Européen (European Literary Prize). In 1960 Miłosz emigrated to the United States, and in 1970 he became a U.S. citizen. In 1961 he began a professorship in Polish literature in the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures at the University of California, Berkeley. In 1978 he received the Neustadt International Prize for Literature. He retired that same year, but continued teaching at Berkeley. In 1980 Miłosz received the Nobel Prize for Literature. Since his works had been banned in Poland by the communist government, this was the first time that many Poles became aware of him. When the Iron Curtain fell, Miłosz was able to return to Poland, at first to visit and later to live part-time in Kraków. He divided his time between his home in Berkeley and an apartment in Kraków. In 1989 Miłosz received the U.S. National Medal of Arts and an honorary doctorate from Harvard University. Through the Cold War, Miłosz's name was often invoked in the United States, particularly by conservative commentators such as William F. Buckley, Jr., usually in the context of Miłosz's 1953 book The Captive Mind. During that period, his name was largely passed over in silence in government-censored media and publications in Poland. The Captive Mind has been described as one of the finest studies of the behavior of intellectuals under a repressive regime. Miłosz observed that those who became dissidents were not necessarily those with the strongest minds, but rather those with the weakest stomachs; the mind can rationalize anything, he said, but the stomach can take only so much. Memorial to fallen Gdańsk shipyard workers, featuring a poem by MiłoszMiłosz is honored at Israel's Yad Vashem memorial to the Holocaust, as one of the "Righteous among the Nations." A poem by Miłosz appears on a Gdańsk memorial to protesting shipyard workers who had been killed by government security forces in 1970. Miłosz's books and poems have been translated into English by many hands, including Jane Zielonko (The Captive Mind), Miłosz himself, his Berkeley students (in translation seminars conducted by him), and his friends and Berkeley colleagues, Peter Dale Scott, Robert Pinsky and Robert Hass. Miłosz died in 2004 at his Kraków home, aged 93. His first wife, Janina, had predeceased him in 1986. His second wife, Carol Thigpen, a U.S.-born historian, died in 2002. He is survived by two sons, Anthony and John Peter. Miłosz's body was entombed at Kraków's historic Skałka Church, one of the last to be commemorated there.)

The Best Poem Of Czeslaw Milosz

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.

Czeslaw Milosz Comments

Fabrizio Frosini 04 January 2016

The time he spent at University of California is mentioned in his poem ‘A Magic Mountain’.1980 was a good year for Milosz as he received the Nobel Prize for Literature and in 1989 the U.S National Medal of Arts and an honorary doctorate from Harvard University. Due to some government restrictions, Milosz work was not published in Poland. ‘The Captive Mind’ was published in 1953. It was all about the behavior of scholars under an oppressive government. The book was translated into English by Jane Zielonko. Miłosz was given an award by the Polish P.E.N club in 1974. In 1976, he became the ‘Guggenheim Fellow’ of poetry and received another honorary degree from the Michigan University named the ‘Doctor of Letters’ in 1977. The next year he won the Neustadt International Prize for Literature and also got the ‘Berkeley Citation’. In 1979-1980 he was selected as nominee for ‘Research Lecturer’ by the Academic Senate. Czesław Miłosz died at the age of 93 in 2004 having lived a successful life as an influential poet and contributor of literature. He was buried in Kraków’s Skałka Roman Catholic Church. The ‘Yad Vashem’ memorial to the Holocaust honored him by calling him one of the ‘Righteous among the Nation’. His work is translated in many languages by renowned translators. In 2011, Yale University held a conference with the topic of Milosz’s relations with the United States as the year was called ‘The Milosz Year’.

175 4 Reply
Fabrizio Frosini 04 January 2016

All his work was written in the Polish language. He also translated the ‘Psalms’ in Polish. Milosz also witnessed the Second World War during which time he was in Warsaw. He attended lectures of Polish philosopher and historian Władysław Tatarkiewicz. After the war ended he worked in Pairs as a cultural representative of Poland. He had to obtain political asylum in France in 1951 as he broke off with the government. Milosz was awarded with the ‘Prix Littéraire Européen’ which is the European Literary Prize. He became a US citizen in 1970. However before that he got the post of Professor of Polish Literature and Slavic languages at the University of California, Berkeley. Czeslaw Milosz got married to Janina in 1944 and had two children with her; sons named Anthony and John Peter. After the death of his first wife in 1986 his second marriage was to an American born historian, Carol Thigpen who died in 2002.

171 3 Reply
Fabrizio Frosini 04 January 2016

A poet, prose writer and translator of his native language, Milosz was the son of a civil engineer Aleksander Milosz and Weronika who was from a noble family. Although originally a Lithuanian, Czesław Miłosz was brought up as a Catholic. He graduated from Sigismund Augustus Gymnasium and studied law from Stefan Batory University. His travels to Paris led him to be influenced by Oscar Milosz who was a cousin and Lithuanian poet. His first poetry work was published in 1934. There he landed a job at Radio Wilno as a commentator which was short lived due to his sympathy for Lithuania.

171 2 Reply
Dwayne Saget 16 November 2012

Where is the is the poem called Song of a citizen?

16 9 Reply
karenski 16 May 2021

does anyone know of a poem of his that contained the lines 'The cry of the slaughtered hare filled the forest'

0 0 Reply
Movendays86 05 July 2020

To force him to service gay weddings is showing discrimination towards Christians.. That's a very serious criminal offence.. Virginia had better humble themselves before the Mighty hand of Almighty God who is not mocked by the likes of these predators. I'm sure there are many other photographers in Virginia, so to force him means they are deliberately and knowingly scheming to get a prosecution.. SHAME ON YOU VERGINIA... SHAME ON YOU. ........... .worknet8   

0 6 Reply
NamelessII 24 April 2018

Czeslaw Milosz truly understands looking back and realizing that you have been seeing yourself as “Handsome and Noble” and realizing a lazy toad has been their all along. (At a Certain Age) This reminds me of a quote from one of his earlier poems: “Do not gaze into the pools of the past. Their corroded surface will mirror A face different from the one you expected.” I am surprised to find that he wrote lines like these with a past like his.

7 1 Reply
Nameless 24 April 2018

He fought in WWII and experienced many horrible things, but he was a successful writer and poet. Did he not look back at his past with admiration and pride? At a Certain Age is definitely a poem I and many others can connect to personally, and I am not even that old!

7 0 Reply
Nevyton 26 December 2017

só poemas favoritos e excelentes

2 2 Reply

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