Czeslaw Milosz

Nhịp thời gian

Hãy yêu người bằng một thứ tình yêu cũ xì, cằn cỗi vì thương hại, cáu kỉnh và cô đơn.
"Aimer les hommes d'un vieil amour usé par la pitié, la colère, et la solitude".
C. Milosz: Hành Trình qua Tây Phương.
Tuyệt cú!

Note: Bản tiếng Anh, của Milosz, cùng trong bài viết:
To love people with an old love worn by pity, anger, and loneliness



A good world-
dew drops fall
by ones, by twos

A few strokes of ink and there it is.
Great stillness of white fog,
waking up in the mountains,
geese calling,
a well hoist creaking,
and the droplets forming on the eaves.

Or perhaps that other house.
The invisible ocean,
fog until noon
dripping in a heavy rain from the boughs of the redwoods,
sirens droning below on the bay.

Poetry can do that much and no more.
For we cannot really know the man who speaks,
what his bones and sinews are like,
the porosity of his skin,
how he feels inside.
And whether this is the village of Szlembark
above which we used to find salamanders,
garishly colored like the dresses of Teresa Roszkowska,
or another continent and different names.
Kotarbinski, Zawada, Erin, Melanie.
No people in this poem. As if it subsisted
by the very disappearance of places and people.

A cuckoo call
For me, for the mountain
For me, for the mountain

Sitting under his lean-to on a rocky ledge
listening to a waterfall hum in the gorge,
he had before him the folds of a wooded mountain
and the setting sun which touched it
and he thought: how is it that the voice of the cuckoo
always turns either here or there?
This could as well not be in the order of things.

In this world
we walk on the roof of Hell
gazing at flowers

To know and not to speak.
In that way one forgets.
What is pronounced strengthens itself.
What is not pronounced tends to nonexistence.
The tongue is sold out to the sense of touch.
Our human kind persists by warmth and softness:
my little rabbit, my little bear, my kitten.
Anything but a shiver in the freezing dawn
and fear of oncoming day
and the overseer's whip.
Anything but winter streets
and nobody on the whole earth
and the penalty of consciousness.
Anything but.

Berkeley, 1978

Czeslaw Milosz: New and Selected Poems, 1931-2001


I ask not out of sorrow, but in wonder.

The first movement is joy,
But it is taken away.

What is poetry which does not save
Nations or people?

Human reason is beautiful and invincible.

The purpose of poetry is to remind us
how difficult it is to remain Just one person ...

And the heart does not die when one thinks it should ...

What was accepted in bitterness and misery turned into praise ...

There are nothing but gifts on this poor, poor earth.

SOMETIMES AT NIGHT or in the early morning, the phrases-the lines-come back to me like talismans, like hard-won messages, metaphysical truths, prayers, offerings from the deep. I was in my early twenties when I first read Czeslaw Milosz's work, which has stayed with me ever since as a touchstone of modern poetry itself I first felt from his work the nobility and grandeur of poetry, yet also learned from him to distrust rhetoric, to question false words and sentiments.
"Try to understand this simple speech as I would be ashamed of another," he avowed in "Dedication." "I swear, there is in me no wizardry of words." One felt from the beginning the purposefulness of Milosz's deceptive simplicity, his distrust of "pure poetry," his anguished irony, his humility before the perplexing plenitude of reality, the depth of his quest for clarity and truth.
    Milosz's poems circulate in the bloodstream not just of Polish but also of American poetry. He offered us at every stage of his development a model of poetic-of human-integrity and seriousness. One marvels at how much of the twentieth century he forced himself to confront and internalize, how much beauty he wrung from its blood-soaked precincts. So much of his work seems haunted by survivor’s guilt, the poignancy of living after what was, for so many, the world’s end. Poetry served him as an offering to the dead, a form of expiation, a hope for redemption. His first obsessive subject was the grim reality of human suffering. Yet his poems are also filled with a survivor's wonder, with a sense of astonishment that the world still exists at all, that we are here to partake of it with a profound gratitude and reverence. He was submerged, as he put it, "in everything that is common to us, the living." He looked to the earth-to being here-for salvation, and kept an eye on the eternal.
    Milosz's greatest poetry is written at the borders of what can be said. It makes a strong effort at expressing the unsayable. There was always in his work an element of catastrophism, a grave open-eyed lucidity about the twentieth century. His work was initiated by the apocalyptic fires of history. Milosz usefully employed the guilt so deeply ingrained in him to summon old stones, to remember those who came before him. He was weighed down by the past, fundamentally responsible to those he had outlasted, and thus bore the burden of long memory. He taught the American poet-and American poetry itself-to consider historical categories, not the idea of history vulgarized by Marxism but something deeper and more complex, more sustaining: the feeling that mankind is memory, historical memory, and that hope is in the historical." In both poetry and prose he gave us a series of Cassandra-like warnings about America's painful indifference to European experience, about the consequences of what happens when "nature becomes theater." In his splendid poetic argument with Robinson Jeffers, he countered Jeffers's praise of inhuman nature his native realm where nature exists on a human scale. Milosz modeled his own obsessive concern with our collective destiny; with he called "the riddle of Evil active in history." Like Alexsander Wat whose memory he devotedly kept alive, he was deeply aware of tragic fragmentation, but he didn't revel in that fragmentation so much as seek to transcend it. In our age of the most profound relativism, he offered an ongoing search for immutable values. He gave us a historical poetry inscribed under the sign of eternity.
    I love Milosz's poetry for its plenitudes and multilevel polyphonies. He taught us to love lyric poetry and also to question it. He insisted that his poems were dictated by a daimonion, and yet he also exemplified what it means to be a philosophical poet. His poetry was fueled by suffering but informed by moments of unexpected happiness. He understood the cruelty of nature and yet remembered that the earth merits our affection. He thought deeply about the rise and fall of civilizations, and he praised the simple marvels of the earth, the sky, and the sea. "There is so much death," he wrote in "Counsels," "and that is why affection / for pig-tails, bright-colored skirts in the wind, / for paper boats no more durable than we are." He wrote of the eternal moment and the holy word: Is. He reminded us how difficult it is to remain just one person. He insisted on our humanity. I love his poetry most of all for its radiant moments of wonder and being, because of its tenderness toward the human. It is a permanent gift.


A day so happy.
Fog lifted early, I worked in the garden.
Hummingbirds were stopping over honeysuckle flowers.
 There was no thing on earth I wanted to possess.
I knew no one worth my envying him.
Whatever evil I had suffered, I forgot.
To think that once I was the same man did not embarrass me.
In my body I felt no pain.
When straightening up, I saw the blue sea and sails.

Một ngày thật hạnh phúc
Sương tan sớm, tôi làm vườn
Chim đậu trên cành
Đếch có cái gì trên mặt đất mà tôi muốn sở hữu
Đếch biết 1 ai xứng đáng cho tôi thèm
Cái Ác, bất cứ gì gì, mà tôi đã từng đau khổ, tôi quên mẹ mất rồi.
Nghĩ, có thời, tôi
là cùng 1 người, cũng chẳng làm phiền tôi.
Trong thân thể tôi, tôi không cảm thấy đau
Khi ngẩng đầu lên, đứng thẳng dậy, tôi nhìn thấy biển xanh và những cánh buồm.
Berkeley, 1971.

Edward Hirsch: Poet’s Choice


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