Verse out of time… Czeslaw Milosz

Czeslaw Milosz: 1911 – 2004 

Born in Seteiniai, Lithuania he made his literary debut in 1930. Among the many honors accorded to his work, The Nobel Prize in Literature in 1980. His works include Poetry and Prose. During the 1960s he served as Professor of Slavic Languages and Literature at University California Berkeley. 

 

Song on the End of the World

 

On the day the world ends

A bee circles a clover

A Fisherman mends a glimmering net.

Happy porpoises jump in the sea,

By the rainspout young sparrows are playing

And the snake is gold-skinned as it should always be

 

On the day the world ends

Women walk through fields under their umbrellas

A drunkard grows sleepy at the edge of a lawn

Vegetable peddlers shout in the street

And a yellow-sailed boat comes nearer the island.

The voice of a violin lasts in the air

And leads into a starry night

 

And those who expected lightning and thunder

Are disappointed

And those who expected signs and archangels’ trumps

Do not believe it is happening now

 

Only a white-haired old man who would be a prophet

Yet is not a prophet for he’s much too busy

Repeats while he binds his tomatoes

No other end of the world there will be

No other end of the world there will be

 

– Chezlaw Milosz

 

If you are unfamiliar with his work, I do hope you will enjoy this poem and search for more. Perhaps you would prefer his prose. There is a vast number of his works I could choose from but thought this was so timely in light of Global Warming.

Bisous,

Léa

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Verse out of time… MAXINE KUMIN

Maxine Kumin 1925 – 2014, Poet, Author,  Poetry Consultant to the Library of Congress (now known as U.S. Poet Laureate). Pulitzer Prize winner who left us with a large and varied legacy of her works ranging from Poetry, Essays, Novels, Memoirs and Children’s Books. 

 

How It Is

 

Shall I say how it is in your clothes?

A month after your death I wear your blue jacket.

The dog at the center of my life recognizes

You’ve come to visit, he’s ecstatic.

In the left pocket, a hole.

In the right, a parking ticket

Delivered up last August on the Bay State Road.

In my heart, a scatter like milkweed,

A flinging from the pods of the soul.

My skin presses your old outline.

It is hot and dry inside.

 

I think of the last day of your life,

Old friend, how I would unwind it, paste

It together in a different collage,

Back from the death car idling in the garage,

Back up the stairs, your praying hands unlaced,

Reassembling the bits of bread and tuna fish

Into a ceremony of sandwich,

Running the home movie backward to a space

We could be easy in, a kitchen place

With vodka and ice, our words like living meat.

 

Dear friend, you have excited crowds,

With your example. They swell

Like wine bags, straining at your seams.

I will be years gathering up our words,

Fishing out letters, snapshots, stains,

Leaning my ribs against this durable cloth

To put on the dumb blue blazer of your death.

                                                                             – Maxine Kumin

While there is a wealth of current poets and authors, there is much to be gained by reading the works of those who have gone before us. While reading a book by the late Carolyn G. Heilbrun, I was introduced to the work of Kumin. There is a special joy in discovering another trove of treasures and perhaps some of you will stop by and mention a few that you have discovered recently.

 

Bisous,

Léa