He became an American citizen and lived in the Berkeley hills in a modest house with a stunning view of San Francisco Bay. He celebrated that vista in his poetry ''Views From San Francisco Bay'' in , but he also spoke of the alien remoteness of the California landscape. Milosz, with his bushy eyebrows, herringbone tweed jacket, wry humor and brilliant lectures was soon a popular figure on campus, especially in his seminars and lectures on Dostoyevsky. He continued to write verse, translated literary masterpieces into Polish and compiled a large volume, ''History of Polish Literature,'' published in The hardships and dangers in Mr.
Czeslaw Milosz was born June 30, , to a Polish-speaking family in Szetejnie, Lithuania, which together with Poland, Latvia and Estonia was part of the Russian empire at the time. The complex, multiethnic Baltic region was inhabited by communities of Poles, Lithuanians, Jews, Russians and others, all speaking their separate languages and living their own cultures.
His family was not rich but it was distinguished and intellectual. He was only 3 when World War I broke out, and his father, a civil engineer, served in the czar's army, while his family was kept on the run from advancing German armies. From his childhood on, Mr.
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Milosz had a rich inner life, reading widely. He also had a challenging array of talents, interests and skills. As a schoolboy, he was fascinated by the scientific world of animals. But in the end, he enrolled in law school at the University of Vilnius, graduating at the age of He worked several years in radio, and sometimes remarked in interviews that he felt guilty for having abandoned science.
Why Has No One Ever Heard of the World’s First Poet?
Milosz traced the distinctive imagery of his poetry to his boyhood experiences in the rural countryside of Lithuania; his childhood is evoked in an autobiographical novel published in the United States as ''The Issa Valley'' and in ''Native Realm,'' an autobiography. In one of his essays he wrote: ''If I were asked to say where my poetry comes from I would say that its roots are in my childhood in Christmas carols, in the liturgy of Marian and vesper offices, and in the Bible. The author Eva Hoffman, a native of Poland, said of him: ''He has never been a provincial artist. His writing may bear the marks of his particular Lithuanian-Polish past, but the material of his own life is filtered through a fully cultivated intelligence and probed to those depths at which individual experience becomes universal.
He attended high school in the city of Vilnius, which by then had been transferred from Lithuania to Poland, and later restored to Lithuania, and published his first poem at the age of 15, He studied Latin for seven years in school, and in his Nobel acceptance speech credited that underlying linguistic discipline and classroom translations of poems with helping him to develop his mastery. He also learned Hebrew and Greek well enough to later translate the Bible into Polish. At the age of 22, while attending law school, Mr. Milosz published his first experimental verse, ''Poem on Time Frozen.
A relative there, Oscar Milosz, who worked in the Lithuanian legation and wrote poetry in French, helped broaden his world outlook and shape his poetic style. He returned to Vilnius after the publication of a second book of poems called ''Three Winters'' but was fired from his job at a local Polish radio station for being too liberal. During the Nazi occupation, he worked in the Warsaw University Library, wrote for the anti-Nazi underground, heard the screams and gunfire in as Germans killed or captured the remaining Jews in the walled Ghetto and witnessed the razing of nearly all Warsaw after the uprising in After the war, a collection of poems called ''Rescue,'' which showed the influence of T.
Eliot, established him among Poland's pre-eminent writers. Although he was not a member of the Communist Party he was accepted into the diplomatic corps in and began the journey that ended with his defection in in Paris. Milosz chose throughout his life to compose his poetry in the complex but rich Polish language, even after he mastered French and English.
Poetry can be true, he said, only if created in one's mother tongue. As his work won increasing attention and respect, Mr. Milosz developed close ties to many leading world intellectuals, writers, and political and religious leaders, especially to Pope John Paul II, his countryman and leader of his faith. When he consulted on his plan to break with Communism, it was with no less a figure than Albert Einstein, who advised him during a talk at Princeton University that he should go home to Poland, not defect to the West to join the sad fate of exiles.
Milosz also knew Lech Walesa, the electrician who led the anti-Communist Solidarity movement and went on to become president of Poland. Lines from a verse by Mr. Milosz were put on a memorial in Gdansk to honor Mr.
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Walesa's fellow shipyard workers who were shot by the police in the early 's:. When Communism was smashed in Poland, Mr. Milosz returned to what he called ''the country of my first immigration. Milosz was regarded as one of the world's literary immortals. When he chose, he walked and talked with the great men of his time, but he remained humble. He also had a remarkable memory and could readily recall the names of his early teachers, companions and friends, and he remembered in vivid detail the first books he read, his adventures and mishaps.
He demonstrated that acute memory in his book ''Native Realm, A Search for Self-Definition,'' a compelling and mildly ironic account of his life, work and thoughts in the illuminating context of Baltic and family history. Milosz enjoyed pleasures of the body as well as of the mind, as he acknowledged in his poem, ''A Confession,'' translated by himself and Robert Hass:. At times, Mr. Milosz fell into melancholy, but he firmly fended off any would-be therapists.
His early poetry was in what was called the ''Catastrophist'' school of the 's, which foresaw the annihilation of the principal values of modern culture and a devastating war. His wartime ordeals tended in ways to bear out the forebodings. Milosz was a man of quiet manner but strong opinions and he expressed them, sometimes to the distress of his admirers. For example, in a PEN congress talk he reminded his fellow writers, ''Innumerable millions of human beings were killed in this century in the name of utopia -- either progressive or reactionary, and always there were writers who provided convincing justifications for massacre.
Reacting to the atrocities in the struggle between Christians and Muslims in Bosnia in the 's, Mr. Milosz blamed intellectuals more than politicians and generals. In my opinion, intellectuals are responsible for the horrors in Bosnia, for they initiated the new nationalist tendencies there. Milosz was married twice. His first wife, Janina Dluska, shared his ordeals in Warsaw during the Nazi occupation and went into exile with him.
She died in They had two sons, Anthony and John Peter, who survive him. In , Mr. Milosz married Carol Thigpen, a historian. Thigpen died in , The Associated Press said. After Mr. Milosz was awarded the Nobel, many of his books were translated into English and published in the United States. Ecco Press gathered a half-century of his work in ''The Collected Poems Then, at daybreak, when she exclaimed: ''Rabboni!trolermotherni.cf
Poems I Wrote When No One Was Looking
Log In. He was 93 An artist of extraordinary intellectual energy, Mr. Milosz, faith was something else, as he made clear in a poem under that title: Faith is in you whenever you look At a dewdrop or a floating leaf And know that they are because they have to be. Even if you close your eyes and dream up things The world will remain as it has always been And the leaf will be carried by the waters of the river. In it, Mr. Milosz wrote: ''The philosophy of history emanating from Moscow is not just an abstract theory; it is a material force that uses guns, tanks, planes and all the machines of war and oppression.
We are, I am, you are by cowardice or courage the one who find our way back to this scene carrying a knife, a camera a book of myths in which our names do not appear. Reprinted by permission of the author and W. Copyright by Adrienne Rich. Does my sassiness upset you? Why are you beset with gloom? Did you want to see me broken? Bowed head and lowered eyes? Shoulders falling down like teardrops, Weakened by my soulful cries?
Planning a funeral
Does my haughtiness offend you? Does my sexiness upset you? I rise I rise I rise.
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