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Commentary by Ivan M. Granger
This is one of my favorite poems by Czeslaw Milosz. I hope you feel it too...
Try reading those early lines again:
I felt a door opening in me and I entered
the clarity of early morning.
Notice how the breaking of the line influences the meaning. It is not written "I felt... / I entered..." separating it into two logical statements. Instead, the first line is "I felt... and I entered." There the line stops, forcing us to stop as well and consider it as a statement complete in itself. And once we enter, we are almost overwhelmed by the next line; it is as if, at that point, all of existence has become "the clarity of early morning."
That sense is further emphasized by the next lines, "One after another my former lives were departing, / like ships, together with their sorrow." Milosz is describing how the weight of one's personal history, the burden of past identity and the actions that seemed to give it reality, all of that is washed away in the flood of that light. Not even washed away; "departing," gently drifting away. Reading that line, I have the sense of those laden ships, not sailing away, but fading out, like gloomy phantoms ever looking backward suddenly caught in the brilliance of dawn.
For where we come from there is no division
into Yes and No, into is, was, and will be.
The lines of this poem have an intuitive recognition of the unity at rest beneath the jangle and hurts of life. It is a recognition that allows for forgiveness... and self-forgiveness.
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2002 - 2011 by Ivan M. Granger.
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