The Gift

I came across this poem again (written 52 years ago, by a man who had lived through World War II in Europe) just as the dense gray fog was tuning to tepid sun this morning. It was in another of Sean Singer’s composite emails. It’s uncharacteristically short and tender, and the line “To think that I was the same man did not embarrass me,” makes me remember what I love about poetry.

The 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 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.

Czesław Miłosz, Berkeley 1971
translated by the poet

Polish poetry

481cf0f2b6a30ad8986c6e.L._V339163520_SX200_I’ve been reading through the luminous translations Mira Rosenthal has done of the work of Tomasz Różycki, a contemporary Polish poet. It’s a delight to read them here in Krakow, where they take on an additional resonance, although Różycki is from Opole, northeast of Krakow. This poem, dedicated to one of the most famous Polish poets, Czesław Miłosz, gives a sense of a land and a poetic spirit that has survived a tortured history.

The Rainy Season

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxFor Cz. M.

We drove through Wrocław, black sea of ruins,
which exiles later wanted to rebuild
to look at least a little like Lwów
so that it did not become a dream, a dream. Continue reading “Polish poetry”