Czeslaw Milosz Quotes (displaying: 1 - 30 of 48 quotes)
Since poetry deals with the singular, not the general, it cannot - if it is good poetry - look at things of this earth other than as colorful, variegated, and exciting, and so, it cannot reduce life, with all its pain, horror, suffering, and ecstasy, to a unified tonality of boredom and complaint. By necessity poetry is therefore on the side of being and against nothingness.
I was not meant to live anywhere except in Paradise.Such, simply, was my genetic inadaptation.Here on earth every prick of a rose-thorn changed into a wound. When the sun hid behind a cloud, I grieved.I pretended to work like others from morning to evening, but I was absent, dedicated to invisible countries.
He sang the brightness of mornings and green rivers, He sang of smoking water in the rose-colored daybreaks, Of colors: cinnabar, carmine, burnt sienna, blue, Of the delight of swimming in the sea under marble cliffs, Of feasting on a terrace above the tumult of a fishing port, Of tastes of wine, olive oil, almonds, mustard, salt. Of the flight of the swallow, the falcon, Of a dignified flock of pelicans above the bay, Of the scent of an armful of lilacs in summer rain, Of his having composed his words always against death. And of having made no rhyme in praise of nothingness.
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.
When, as my friend suggested, I stand before Zeus (whether I die naturally, or under sentence of History)I will repeat all this that I have written as my defense. Many people spend their entire lives collecting stamps or old coins, or growing tulips. I am sure that Zius will be merciful toward people who have given themselves entirely to these hobbies, even though they are only amusing and pointless diversions. I shall say to him : "It is not my fault that you made me a poet, and that you gave me the gift of seeing simultaneously what was happening in Omaha and Prague, in the Baltic states and on the shores of the Arctic Ocean. I felt that if I did not use that gift my poetry would be tasteless to me and fame detestable. Forgive me." And perhaps Zeus, who does not call stamp-collectors and tulip-growers silly, will forgive.
Tomber amoureux. To fall in love. Does it occur suddenly or gradually? If gradually, when is the moment “already”? I would fall in love with a monkey made of rags. With a plywood squirrel. With a botanical atlas. With an oriole. With a ferret. With a marten in a picture. With the forest one sees to the right when riding in a cart to Jaszuny. With a poem by a little-known poet. With human beings whose names still move me. And always the object of love was enveloped in erotic fantasy or was submitted, as in Stendhal, to a “cristallisation,” so it is frightful to think of that object as it was, naked among the naked things, and of the fairy tales about it one invents. Yes, I was often in love with something or someone. Yet falling in love is not the same as being able to love. That is something different.
You who wronged a simple man Bursting into laughter at the crime, And kept a pack of fools around you To mix good and evil, to blur the line, Though everyone bowed down before you, Saying virtue and wisdom lit your way, Striking gold medals in your honor, Glad to have survived another day, Do not feel safe. The poet remembers. You can kill one, but another is born. The words are written down, the deed, the date. And you’d have done better with a winter dawn, A rope, and a branch bowed beneath your weight.
Religion used to be the opium of the people. To those suffering humiliation, pain, illness, and serfdom, religion promised the reward of an after life. But now, we are witnessing a transformation, a true opium of the people is the belief in nothingness after death, the huge solace, the huge comfort of thinking that for our betrayals, our greed, our cowardice, our murders, we are not going to be judged.