This morning I read this poem. “A task” by Czelaw Milosz, chosen randomly from his collected poems. It reminded me of the post I made on reading this poem initially in 2017. It resonated again today amidst so much degraded public discourse.
I will add to this repost the closing paragraph of the other poem by Milosz that I read this morning – “My faithful mother tongue”:
Faithful mother tongue,
perhaps after all it’s I who must try to save you.
So I will continue to set before you little bowls of colors
bright and pure if possible,
for what is needed in misfortune is a little order and beauty.
Is the faithful mother tongue a language, culture, tradition, the unending words of the infinite conversation?
A task: from Milosz to me (originally posted 2017)
A short post.
The miracle of literature: how words crafted for another voice, at another time, pierce the carapace of habit, strike at deep wounds, and reveal a way of being.
From my reading last night:
The Task (Czeslaw Milosz)
In fear and trembling, I think I would fulfill my life
Only if I brought myself to make a public confession
Revealing a sham, my own and of my epoch:
We were permitted to shriek in the tongues of dwarfs and demons
But pure and generous words were forbidden
Under so stiff a penalty that whoever dared to pronounce one
Considered himself as a lost man.
More Reflections on 2017 on the weekend…