Poetry / June 2014 (Issue 24)

On Reading the Poet Milosz

by Mathew Joseph

with a line from Milosz

What does it matter that I
read you and not understand
your profound guilt (for you alone survived)
or your great wars of which I know nothing?
We live in different ages.

We have left behind our violent ways, no
longer stirred by sacred songs(or flags),
have tamed our wild passions: of course it is —
not true at all.
Yet something has changed. Perhaps the seasons? Perhaps...
shall we agree to call it springtime?

Your poetry without hope or redemption is discordant with spring.
Amidst barbed wires and twisted metal
when the scent of beautiful ideas
turned into the odor of flesh and gas you
found surrender in the still memory
of oaks, green moss, arctic dew and cloudy forests.

Dear poet, my age is ugly.
we live out (as we always have) the sins of our fathers,
another age will perhaps unmask the infamies of this one — nothing changes.

You turned to poetry to encounter your age
you encountered it not out of sorrow but in wonder.
I turn to it hoping to encounter beauty
but mostly I turn to it for consolation.
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