Poem #15: Dedication by Czeslaw Milosz

Czesław Miłosz (1911 – 2004) was a Polish poet and writer. 1n 1980, he was awarded the Nobel prize in Literature. The poem deal with the burden and guilt of survival.


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.

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 bridge

Going into white fog. Here is a broken city,

And the wind throws the screams of gulls on your grave

When I am talking with you.

What is poetry which does not save

Nations or people?

A connivance with official lies,

A song of drunkards whose throats will be cut in a moment,

Readings for sophomore girls.

That I wanted good poetry without knowing it,

That I discovered, late, its salutary aim,

In this and only this I find salvation.

They used to pour millet on graves or poppy seeds

To feed the dead who would come disguised as birds.

I put this book here for you, who once lived

So that you should visit us no more.

Have you read any poetry by Polish writers?  What do you think of this poem?



Comments are closed.