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[[ download Reading ]] New and Collected Poems: 1931-2001Author Czesław Miłosz –

When came home from buying this I forget to get out of the car and instead sat for two hours, reading, in the cold discomfort of the driver s seat It was worth it. i photocopy individual poems out of this and tuck them into my luggage on trips, i copy them by hand into notebooks, i send them off to friends, and i hoist this comprehensive volume up from beside my bed in the foggy moments just before i fall asleep, blinkingly reading a long loved peom or an overlooked one, to confirm my own thought life and to hone my poetic senses i adore milosz. Celebrating the Centennial of Czeslaw Milosz 1911 2011 This book is great compilation of all his known poetry in a single tome.Last year the world celebrated the centennial of the great Polish poet Czeslaw Milosz He was a poet whose extraordinary life spanned 93 years, five countries, two continents, most of the 20th century and the first years of the 21st Born in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania Poland, he spent his early childhood in Russia, then studied in Vilnius and Poland, before suffering the war in Warsaw and emigrating to Paris in 1951 In 1960 he immigrated to USA on a professorship at the Slavic department of Studies of University of California, Berkeley and worked there virtually in anonymity till he was bestowed the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1980 He lived than 30 years in a modest house overlooking San Fransico Bay and in 1993 he returned to Krakow in Poland to live there till his death on August 14, 2004.The magnitude of Czeslaw Milosz as an eminent poet and essayist is almost unimaginable He was a hero of the history of his time and a hero of the literature of his time Though a deep Catholic, Milosz s spiritual intensity never interfered with his historical clarity His inner freedom seems never to have failed him His life and his work justified, in all their complexities, the most elementary belief in the power of the truth He had the face of a hawk and the heart of a dove In a way he was as tough as time.Adam Zagajewski, Poland s greatest living poet, mentioned during a recent memorial lecture Available in YouTube that Milosz was perhaps the only poet of 20th century who tried to grasp the totality of the world If you had a chance to read his magnificent collected poetry, you will know that, like Whitman, Milosz was a universal poet who succeeded in grasping the totality of all human experiences As Milosz speaks in a poem More clever than you, I learned my century, pretending I knew a method for forgetting pain Milosz was a poet who was in command of his medium He knew what poetry should do and what poetry should refrain from One of his greatest achievements is a poem titled A Treatise on Poetry , a sequence looking back on these events from the mid 50s The short opening lyric calls for a clear direct style of image and thought, a poetry that can shoulder the responsibilities of its time One clear stanza can take weight Than a whole wagon of elaborate prose.He was also a poet of strong moral consciousness He became a leader among Polish language modernists in the 1930s, then witnessed the Nazi destruction of Warsaw His epochal early poetry described the horrors of war and the enduring power of joy I have seen the fall of States and the perdition of tribes Reflecting on the reaction of Polish Poetry to the experience of World War II , Milosz poses the basic question The act of writing a poem is an act of faith yet if the screams of the tortured are audible in the poet s room, is not his activity an offense to human suffering From this stand point, every artistic creation becomes morally ambiguous Thankfully Milosz himself has given best expression of this dilemma in his Nobel Prize speech which I quote below Reality calls for a name, for words, but it is unbearable and if it is touched, if it draws very close, the poet s mouth cannot even utter a complaint of Job all art proves to be nothing compared with action Yet, to embrace reality in such a manner that it is preserved in all its old tangle of good and evil, of despair and hope, is possible only thanks to a distance, only by soaring above it but this in turn seems then a moral treason Let us now examine some of the poems of Milosz that illustrates the craft of his poetry Milosz s poems are based on observations and it gyrates like a moving camera, shifting constantly from what is near to what is distant One can see a conscious clash between the desire to catch the fleeting moment and the feeling of absence of a constant reference point The concreteness of Milosz s imagination is evident in this poem, which has been one of my favorite Milosz poems Encounter Trans Czeslaw Milosz Lillian Vallee 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.One of us pointed to it with his hand.That was long ago Today neither of them is alive,Not the hare, nor the man who made the gesture.O my love, where are they, where are they goingThe flash of a hand, streak of movement, rustle of pebbles.I ask not out of sorrow, but in wonder In Encounter Milosz is dealing with memory and events separated by a great gap in time or perhaps correctly, the one event looked at twice from different times And this event is not so much one moment but one moment interrupted by a happening the quiet monotonous motion of the wagon and the thoughts of those travelling on it jolted as a hare flashes across the road in front of them Just as the hare s sudden presence interrupts the travellers awareness, the poem interrupts the awareness of the reader by its sudden shift in time That was long ago Milosz finds a kind of mystery, which cannot be understood, but hides behind such moments It is as though the hare has become a symbol for the unexpected and ultimately life enforcing nature of existence He makes use of simple and direct style and it is incredibly how far he takes the reader in such a short interval The last stanza is like a lightning stroke and has the revelatory power of supreme utterance.Milosz s poetry has been called polyphonic and as he says I have always been full of voices speaking in a way I consider myself an instrument, a medium Let us consider a famous poem titled Dedication Dedication was written in Warsaw in 1945 which is to say after than six years of Nazi occupation, after the bloody suppression of the Warsaw uprising, the subsequent deportation of the city s than one million inhabitants, the destruction of all its remaining buildings, and its liberation by the Soviet army Although Milosz never literally took up arms against the Nazis, he did endure narrow escapes at the start of the occupation, and his home, all of his books, and many of his early manuscripts were destroyed by German shelling Here the poet is addressing a dead young poet, a man who apparently died during the Nazi resistance One can sense a bit of hubris or arrogance when the poet addresses the dead poet and says What strengthened me, for you was lethal He is speaking to someone frustratingly beyond the reach of his words, about whom he feels guilt for not saving I swear, there is in me no wizardry of words I speak to you with silence like a cloud or a tree a lie, of course, because this poem is written in words They, in fact, are his millet seeds to propitiate the dead Dedication transl by Czeslaw MiloszYou whom I could not saveListen 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.I speak to you with silence like a cloud or a tree.What strengthened me, for you was lethal.You mixed up farewell to an epoch with the beginning of a new one,Inspiration of hatred with lyrical beauty,Blind force with accomplished shape.Here is the valley of shallow Polish rivers And an immense bridgeGoing into white fog Here is a broken city,And the wind throws the screams of gulls on your graveWhen I am talking with you.What is poetry which does not saveNations or people A connivance with official lies,A song of drunkards whose throats will be cut in a moment,Readings for sopho girls.That I wanted good poetry without knowing it,That I discovered, late, its salutary aim,In this and only this I find salvation.As I mentioned earlier, Milosz was born to a family of Polish speaking landed gentry in Lithuania, a group that related to Poland rather as the Anglo Irish gentry did to England Over a lifetime, memories of the old manor grounds and surrounding woods provided him with his own vision of the land of youth He attended university in Vilnius and as a young man moved to Warsaw, where he survived the war, working in the underground resistance, publishing anti Nazi poems In the bleakest hours of World War II, Milosz produced a masterpiece called The World, a sequence of 20 naive poems written in the style of school primers, in which the rudiments of a child s world the road, the gate, the porch, the dining room, the stairs, the poppies, the peonies are portrayed with the indomitability of genuine innocence Against the horror, he pitted pastoral And all the while he was working with the Polish underground There were two ways, then, of resisting evil engagement and disengagement attachment and detachment action against it and contemplation despite it In his dark era, Milosz was the master of this complication, this salvation, of consciousness The following poem titled Love is an excerpt from The World LoveTransl by Czeslaw MiloszLove means to learn to look at yourselfThe way one looks at distant thingsFor you are only one thing among many And whoever sees that way heals his heart, Without knowing it, from various ills A bird and a tree say to him Friend Then he wants to use himself and thingsSo that they stand in the glow of ripeness It doesn t matter whether he knows what he serves Who serves best doesn t always understand.Milosz was well familiar with Indian philosophy and no wonder he reiterates that that to love, to be genuinely loving, we need to drop the attachment to the self as special we need to see ourselves from a detached perspective, humbly acknowledging that we are only one thing among many Milosz further claims that seeing oneself with detachment is a way to heal one s heart of many grief.After all, our troubles are only part of that sea of troubles that life is for everyone.It s only after we have achieved this detachment, this humility, that we are capable of loving kindness and selfless service Further, it s not necessary to know what it is we are serving In fact, the person who understands is not the one who serves best, Milosz claims When we aren t self absorbed, we feel united with others and with nature A bird and a tree say to him Friend The last poem I discuss here is his about his faith in books I really love this poem as the physicality of books around me is a feeling that I adore Many have become individualized over the years, filled with dog ears and memories old postcards and peacock feathers stuck in between chapters as bookmarks an old photo preserved forever between the blank front pages notes scribbled in margins My life and the author s life have intersected here In a world where whole libraries can be contained in a tiny 8 x 12 piece of plastic, this poem is an assertion of a book as a bodily book Literature has survived changing forms before But there is something so beautiful, so real, about books in a large, clunky form that I wonder what this new change will mean for the way that literature is read and understoodAnd Yet Books Transl by Czeslaw Milosz And yet the books will be there on the shelves, separate beings,That appeared once, still wetAs shining chestnuts under a tree in autumn,And, touched, coddled, began to liveIn spite of fires on the horizon, castles blown up,Tribes on the march, planets in motion We are, they said, even as their pagesWere being torn out, or a buzzing flameLicked away their letters So much durableThan we are, whose frail warmthCools down with memory, disperses, perishes.I imagine the earth when I am no Nothing happens, no loss, it s still a strange pageant,Women s dresses, dewy lilacs, a song in the valley.Yet the books will be there on the shelves, well born,Derived from people, but also from radiance, heights.Though at times his poetry may seem hermetic and philosophical, he has also written poems that reflects his enduring human love for the sensual and spiritual Here is a sample.A Confession Transl by Czeslaw Milosz My Lord, I loved strawberry jamAnd the dark sweetness of a woman s body.Also well chilled vodka, herring in olive oil,Scents, of cinnamon, of cloves.So what kind of prophet am I Why should the spiritHave visited such a man Many othersWere justly called, and trustworthy.Who would have trusted me For they sawHow I empty glasses, throw myself on food,And glance greedily at the waitress s neck.Flawed and aware of it Desiring greatness,Able to recognise greatness wherever it is,And yet not quite, only in part, clairvoyant,I knew what was left for smaller men like me A feast of brief hopes, a rally of the proud,A tournament of hunchbacks, literature.In an interview Milosz says about his approach to crafting poems It is shedding skins, which means abandoning old forms and assumptions I feel this is what makes writing exciting My poetry is always a search for a spacious form I have always been in conflict with those theories of poetry that concentrate on the aesthetic object Thousands lined the streets of Krakow to watch the funeral procession of poet when he died in 2004 His body was entombed at the historic Ska ka Roman Catholic Church, one of the last to be commemorated there Robert Hass, American poet and his translator, who attended the funeral found the whole church and streets heaped with white flowers of Lithuanian summer to mark the transition of the great poet There is a story that Czes aw Mi osz, on a return visit to his birthplace in Lithuania some 50 years after he had left, walked up to an oak tree and embraced it An image of the return of the native, of course, but also an image of someone drawing strength the psychic, moral and physical strength of a great poet from his home ground.To conclude, as a modern poet, Milosz discharged his obligations to his age and his obligations to his soul with the same diligence and the same depth He had the rare gift of knowing how to be at once troubled and unperturbed The stability of his mind, its preternatural composure, was one of the great sanctuaries of the 20th century, a prophecy of the eventual emancipation When light was needed, he was light when stone was needed, he was stone He was someone who lived by the haiku of Issa We walk on the roof of Hell gazing at flowers Mi osz once wrote The child who dwells inside us trusts that there are wise men somewhere who know the truth At this centenary moment, he himself has become one of those wise men Reference New and Collected Poems 1931 2001 Czeslaw Milosz, The Art of Poetry No 70 The Paris Review Czeslaw Milosz, 1911 2004 The New York Times Sept 12, 2004 Seamus Heaney on Czes aw Mi osz s centenary Guardian 7th April 2011 In the thesis defense meeting for my Master of Fine Arts degree, one of my committee members an illustrious guy told me, time to stop reading Rilke and start reading Milosz That was about two years ago now and I started this collection shortly thereafter The resulting journey has been slow going I had periods where I d be reading fifty pages a week, and then others where I let the book rest untouched for a few months At all points I considered its reading as a work in progress, until now, when I have finally read the last page of poetry, the last page of end notes.What has happened in the interim I think this is a question that applies both to the individual case of reading Milosz s poetry, but also to the larger, general act of reading the collected poems of an author To start, I think it s often unreasonable to imagine that we truly know a book after reading it once, but this is probably never the case than after reading a collection of poems that is meant to cover the expanse of a career and life Milosz, in particular, was too prolific for me to pretend that I now know his poems, not like, for example, how I know Rilke s Duino Elegies after rereading them a few dozen times On the other hand, it isn t as if I don t know the work certainly after reading over seven hundred pages of poetry by a single writer, even after taking into consideration evolution of craft and stylistic variance, there is a manner in which I know the work Yet, should you ask me to recall, offhand, a representative line, image, or figure I wouldn t, without reopening the book, be well equiped to answer with any authority.I believe what happens when you read the complete works of a poet, slowly, over time, is that you begin to accumulate a certain familiarity with the work voice substance of the poetry I might not be able to quote many lines from memory, or delve too far into analyses about the presiding structures of the writing, not after one reading of his oeuvre, but I have a sense of how the poetry feels as it is being read It s not unlike the memory of the feeling of sitting in a particular chair, day after day, for hours, while studying It s sensory, rather than logical, and it is familiar, rather than formal It s the same sort of perception that distinguishes between the feeling of being in Edinburgh and the feeling of being in Seattle, without reference to visual cues, even at times when the climates feel remarkably similar On the whole, I think this sort of familiarity accretes whenever the body of work of a poet is read steadily over time perhaps all understandings of books, to a certain degree, work this way , but it is especially true in the case of Milosz, if by virtue of the sheer volume of poetry alone.What did it feel like to read Milosz At times it felt like sitting with a minor mystic, at other times it felt like listening to the elder of the tribe I felt, nearly always, the urge towards visionary movement, contrasting with a strong desire for wisdom and rationality At times where I felt resistant towards him, I thought of Milosz as the man who would be sage At other times, I felt his voice to be breaking from the clouds Moreover, there was nearly always impression that, yes, this work is quotable, and there were poems that were chock full of pith But simultaneously, there was a screen being held up, something of an attempt to shield the reader and perhaps the author from seeing the man behind the curtain In a late poem, Milosz apologizes to Lowell for judging him harshly for his showy madnesses, and I got the sense that a barrier was always in place in the book so as to make real that distinction between the vibrance of the work and the demons of the man who wrote it Even when seemingly personal details are disclosed in a self deprecating fashion, there is a limit to how close one can get to the man himself.I can imagine this limit being something of a manifestation of the trauma that Milosz spends most of his life trying to write He wrote war, he wrote exile, he wrote spiritual doubt, he wrote heartache, and he wrote hamartia I wonder if he ever suspected that all those attempts to write truth about suffering were, in the end, something of a circumnavigation that put into relief the real residue of trauma, the mostly impermeable wall between the man and the work I should probably clarify that I don t think other authors are incarnate in their work, but rather that I think the specific quality of the barrier, in Milosz s case, is what gives me this impression Or maybe it isn t a barrier but a synapse, a chasm There is probably a study to be done on moments of obvious absence, in terms of a subjective voice, but I m not the one to do it Whoever is, though, I might suggest they look at the Scottish poet, Sorley MacClean, for some uncanny resonances, at least concerning a poet who writes not only from the distance of being exiled from action, but exiled from the self as well I ve gone a bit in depth about my feelings than I intended, and still I haven t gone all the way I haven t yet said that I felt deep ambivalence about Milosz s late attempts at philosophy in verse I haven t said that I never sat easily through his representations of women and relationships with them I haven t said there were times when I was ready to shake Milosz out of some bucolic fantasy, to say, We have exalted the tree bark and the bee work and the brook babble enough already to know that you will deliver us to a maxim of some kind soon enough Take me back to the war And stop gesturing towards the bottle long enough to talk about how you drank But all that would also hide the fact that at times I had the impression of sitting cross legged at his feet, nodding yes, yes, yes to his pronouncements on the vanity of men and the mysterious lure of mortality That makes it sound somewhat wank, but I think it s a testament to the poet s power that, at his best, these kinds of claims were both artful and persuasive So sometimes sitting with Milosz felt like sitting with the Truth Luckily, I eventually close the book long enough to remember that I doubt anyone anything who claims in word or gesture to represent Truth So I have meandered through some of my impressions, ones that built up over the duration of two years intermittent reading, and in a way that, I think, represents some of the way I made my way through the collection too Even if I turned every page and read every poem in the sequence that they are delivered to us in the format of the book, I still have the sense of choosing my path, or rather my engagement with it That, finally, is part of what I think the value of reading a collected volume can be And so an inside joke , I am grateful to the thesis committee member who spurred me into Milosz s work I can t say that I was happy in every line, but I can say that I have grown from the steady increase of familiarity with this oeuvre Among other things, I came away with an idea of how some of my tendencies as a writer have been approached by one of the very best, and of how even the very best can make in my estimation missteps I may never be as wise a poet as Milosz All the better.Oh yes, one thing Heaney and Hass were among the translators Likely company in ways than a few. Mi osz is already most assuredly one of my favorite poets, and my relationship with this volume has been marked by a wondrous, but slightly perturbing, synchronicity Every time I flip open its pages, the perfect poem for that particular temporal node inexplicably reveals itself to me.COUNSELSIf I were in the place of young poets quite a place, whatever the generation might think I would prefer not to say that the earth is a madman s dream,a stupid tale full of sound and fury.It s true, I did not happen to see the triumph of justice.The lips of the innocent make no claims.And who knows whether a fool in a crown,a winecup in hand, roaring that God favors himbecause he poisoned, slew, and blinded so many,would not move the onlookers to tears he was so gentle God does not multiply sheep and camels for the virtuousand takes nothing away for murder and perjury.He has been hiding for so long that it has been forgottenhow he revealed himself in the burning bushand in the breast of a young Jewready to suffer for all who were and will be It is not certain if Ananke awaits her hourto pay back what is due for the lack of measure and for pride Man has been given to understandthat he lives only by the grace of those in power.Let him therefore busy himself sipping coffee, catching butterflies.He who cares for the Republic will have his right hand cut off And yet, the Earth merits a bit, a tiny bit, of affection.Not that I take too seriously consolations of nature,and baroque ornaments, the moon, chubby clouds although it s beautiful when bird cherries blossom on the banks of the Wilia.No, I would even advise to keep further from Nature,from persistent images of infinite space,of infinite time, from snails poisonedon a path in a garden, just like our armies There is so much death, and that is why affectionfor pigtails, bright colored skirts in the wind,for paper boats no durable that we are. On my quest to read something from every Nobel Prize winner, I came across Czes aw Mi osz, who was until then unknown to me What I could find was all his works bundled, so that was easy His poetry is a rare example of something that works well in English translation probably thanks to the fact that he translated most of the poems himself The poems smell here and there of T.S Eliot, which is a bonus, but then modern.Do read beyond that one poem about the Warsaw ghetto that everybody mentions there is much to discover in this vast body of poetry Spanning Seven Decades with a Humble MuseIn the very last poem of this, the greatest collection of Milosz s works, he so lucidly begins Late Ripeness by Czeslaw Milosz Not soon, as late as the approach of my ninetieth year, I felt a door opening in me and I entered the clarity of early morning One after another my former lives were departing, like ships, together with their sorrow This wonderful collection spans a lush and lavish 70 long years years magically molded in the hands of a cunning and capable and wise prophet of our times Milosz yearns for a tangible reality to maintain the health of poetry He is accessible even to the untrained ear..for it is ultimately in the lack of illusion that his work shines and reverberates In his introduction, he concludes that poetry has always been for me a participation in the humanly modulated time of my contemporaries And we see this simple humility reflected in the last verses of his final poem of this collection Moments from yesterday and from centuries ago a sword blow, the painting of eyelashes before a mirror of polished metal, a lethal musket shot, a caravel staving its hull against a reef they dwell in us, waiting for a fulfillment I knew, always, that I would be a worker in the vineyard, as are all men and women living at the same time, whether they are aware of it or not This rich collection will transport you back and forth in time with a gifted, yet humble master of distillation, distance and destiny This wonderful collection was recommended to me by Maria, and I am grateful for that introduction to the work of this superb poet Milosz was born in 1911 in Lithuania, was active in the resistance during the war, moved to the US and became a citizen, taught at Berkeley for a number of years, received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1980, and died in Krakow in 2004 So this collection spans pretty much his whole life, and its chronological arrangement provides insight into his development as a poet I have spent breakfasts with him for almost a year, and the time has been well spent.Milosz is a poet who pays homage to the particular, ranging over the entire duration of his experience to touch upon people, events, sensations, and perceptions to write them into being The present is always with him, but so is his past The poetry is very accessible, vivid and immediate Although he is highly literate and uses allusions to history, mythology, and authors before him, the allusions are not obscure these are verses for Everyman And, as such, they invite the reader to similar reflections, to the examination of his own life and experience, to the honoring of his own past and present I found it interesting to share Milosz s summing up of his life as he aged, his musings on his past and the meaning of his life Only in the last few pages did I sense that his skill and abilities were flagging.This is a marvelous book of poetry, a rich mine for those who read poetry regularly, a good starting place for those who do not. Just sublime.Ranging from consciousness murky pools,To bucolic portraits in verdigris,The soul striving for a frictionless heaven,But mired within temporal wear and tear.Probing oneself on paper o er abraded years,The philosopher of the northern forest,Finding the earth an eternal mystery,Bestowed in light by the Spirit of Love.The sauce of wisdom simmering in time,To spice home and hearth or coat grievous ruin.The exile s gift wrapped inGolden words Dzi kuj. New And Collected Poems Celebrates Seven Decades Of Czeslaw Milosz S Exceptional Career Widely Regarded As One Of The Greatest Poets Of Our Time, Milosz Is A Master Of Probing Inquiry And Graceful Expression His Poetry Is Infused With A Tireless Spirit And Penetrating Insight Into Fundamental Human Dilemmas And The Staggering Yet Simple Truth That To Exist On The Earth Is Beyond Any Power To Name Czeslaw Milosz Worked With The Polish Resistance Movement In Warsaw During World War II And Defected To France In His Work Brings To Bear The Political Awareness Of An Exile Most Notably In A Treatise On Poetry, A Forty Page Exploration Of The World Wars That Rocked The First Half Of The Twentieth Century His Later Poems Also Reflect The Sharp Political Focus Through Which This Nobel Laureate Never Fails To Bear Witness To The Events That Stir The WorldDigging Among The Rubble Of The Past, Milosz Forges A Vision That Encompasses Pain As Well As Joy His Work, Wrote Edward Hirsch In The New York Times Book Review, Is One Of The Monumental Splendors Of Poetry In Our Age With Than Fifty Poems From The End Of Milosz S Career, This Is An Essential Collection From One Of The Most Important Voices In Contemporary Poetry