POEM OF THE WEEK

           

 

WINTER

CZESLAW MILOSZ

 

The pungent smells of a California winter,

Grayness and rosiness, an almost transparent full moon.

I add logs to the fire, I drink and I ponder.

 

"In Ilawa," the news item said, "at age 70

Died Aleksander Rymkiewicz, poet."

 

He was the youngest in our group. I patronized him slightly,

Just as I patronized others for their inferior minds

Though they had many virtues I couldn't touch.

 

And so I am here, approaching the end

Of the century and of my life. Proud of my strength

Yet embarrassed by the clearness of the view.

 

Avant-gardes mixed with blood.

The ashes of inconceivable arts.

An omnium-gatherum of chaos.

 

I passed judgment on that. Though marked myself.

This hasn't been the age for the righteous and the decent.

I know what it means to beget monsters

And to recognize in them myself.

 

You, moon, You, Aleksander, fire of cedar logs.

Waters close over us, a name lasts but an instant.

Not important whether the generations hold us in memory.

Great was that chase with the hounds for the unattainable meaning of the world.

 

And now I am ready to keep running

When the sun rises beyond the borderlands of death.

 

I already see mountain ridges in the heavenly forest

Where, beyond every essence, a new essence waits.

 

You, music of my late years, I am called

By a sound and a color which are more and more perfect.

 

Do not die out, fire. Enter my dreams, love.

Be young forever, seasons of the earth.