Thursday, August 16, 2007

FORGET

NOBEL LAUREATE. I picked up New and Collected Poems by Polish Nobel laureate (1980) Czeslaw Milosz (1911-2004) from the Pike library a few days ago. It's a thick volume and I'm slowly picking my way through it. I'm also trying to learn of Milosz and his context of writing.

EASTERN EUROPEAN PERSPECTIVE. Milosz' life spans an incredible period in European, Polish and American cultural and political life. His life context is full of tragedy, earlier, and hope, much later. Poland moved from the grip of militant Nazism into a long night of militant Communism. Eastern Europeans have a very different view of the events of the 1930's, 40's, 50's, and 60's than Americans who came to middle adulthood in this period. The toll on naive faith is heavy. But the eventual emergence of "hope against hope" and a seasoned, cautious--if not jaded--faith perspective is evident in this short poem.

Forget the suffering
You caused others.
Forget the suffering
Others caused you.
The waters run and run,
Springs sparkle and are done,
You walk the earth you are forgetting.

Sometimes you hear a distant refrain.
What does it mean, you ask, who is singing?
A childlike sun grows warm.
A grandson and a great-grandson are born.
You are led by the hand once again.

The names of the rivers remain with you.
How endless those rivers seem!
Your fields lie fallow,
The city towers are not as they were.
You stand at the threshold mute.

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