Saturday, January 19, 2013

Czeslaw Milosz: 'Meaning'

Hearing Czeslaw Milosz read, with Robert Hass, at the Library of Congress, in early January, 1993--almost twenty years ago to the day--was one of the better experiences of my literary life.  An old man, with wild eyebrows, reading in Polish and English, on a night that was bitter cold (as my journal reports) but full of stars....Milosz was kind enough to shake my hand and ask if the reading had pleased me.....


--When I die, I will see the lining of the world.
The other side, beyond bird, mountain, sunset.                                 
The true meaning, ready to be decoded.
What never added up will add up,                                        
What was incomprehensible will be comprehended.

--And if there is no lining to the world?
If a thrush on a branch is not a sign,
But just a thrush on the branch?  If night and day
Make no sense following each other?
And on this earth there is nothing except this earth?

--Even if that is so, there will remain
A word wakened by lips that perish,
A tireless messenger who runs and runs
Through interstellar fields, through the revolving galaxies,
And calls out, protests, screams.

From Provinces, Poems 1987-1991 published by Ecco Press in 1991; translations by Milosz and Robert Hass

George Ovitt (1/19)

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