Hope

Czeslaw Milosz

Hope is with you when you believe
The earth is not a dream but living flesh,
That sight, touch, and hearing do not lie,
That all things you have ever seen here
Are like a garden looked at from a gate.

You cannot enter. But you're sure it's there.
Could we but look more clearly and wisely
We might discover somewhere in the garden
A strange new flower and an unnamed star.

Some people say we should not trust our eyes,
That there is nothing, just a seeming,
These are the ones who have no hope.
They think that the moment we turn away,
The world, behind our backs, ceases to exist,
As if snatched up by the hands of thieves.

 

 

 

In light of the Coronavirus crisis, Poetry Daily has started an impromptu series, What Keeps Us.
For the rest of March, we will post poems to sustain and uplift through trying times. Each poem is accompanied with an image by author-illustrator Juana Medina http://www.juanamedina.com. We thank you for reading and hope that you will share poems with your friends and neighbors. Please be well.

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Czeslaw Milosz was born in Szetejnie, Lithuania, in 1911. He worked with the Polish resistance movement in Warsaw during World War II and was later stationed in Paris and Washington, D.C., as a Polish cultural attaché. He defected to France in 1951, and in 1960 he accepted a position at the University of California, Berkeley. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1980, and was a member of the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters. He died in 2004.

New and Collected Poems: 1931—2001 celebrates seven decades of Czeslaw Milosz’s exceptional career. Widely regarded as one of the greatest poets of our time, Milosz is a master of probing inquiry and graceful expression. His poetry is infused with a tireless spirit and penetrating insight into fundamental human dilemmas and the staggering yet simple truth that “to exist on the earth is beyond any power to name.”

Czeslaw Milosz worked with the Polish Resistance movement in Warsaw during World War II and defected to France in 1951. His work brings to bear the political awareness of an exile—most notably in A Treatise on Poetry, a forty-page exploration of the world wars that rocked the first half of the twentieth century. His later poems also reflect the sharp political focus through which this Nobel Laureate never fails to bear witness to the events that stir the world.

Digging among the rubble of the past, Milosz forges a vision that encompasses pain as well as joy. His work, wrote Edward Hirsch in the New York Times Book Review, is “one of the monumental splendors of poetry in our age.” With more than fifty poems from the end of Milosz’s career, this is an essential collection from one of the most important voices in contemporary poetry.

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