Jan 18 2013

Czeslaw Milosz – Love

Published by at 10:00 am under Poetry

Love
by Czeslaw Milosz

English version by Robert Hass

Love means to learn to look at yourself
The way one looks at distant things
For you are only one thing among many.
And whoever sees that way heals his heart,
Without knowing it, from various ills.
A bird and a tree say to him: Friend.
Then he wants to use himself and things
So that they stand in the glow of ripeness.
It doesn’t matter whether he knows what he serves:
Who serves best doesn’t always understand.

— from The Collected Poems, by Czeslaw Milosz


/ Photo by Timo /

Another delightful poem by Czeslaw Milosz. Reading this, I immediately settle and grow still.

Love means to learn to look at yourself
The way one looks at distant things
For you are only one thing among many.

This seems like such a gentle way to conceive of dethroning the narcissistic self. It doesn’t need to be about great effort or a violent overthrow within the consciousness, we just need a shift in perspective. We just need to broaden our vision. Then we can see the many things of existence. When we gently, honestly compare this human being that we each are against everything else, we develop a much more humble sense of self. And we begin to see how we actually fit within the community of the many; we discover our interconnectedness.

And whoever sees that way heals his heart,
Without knowing it, from various ills.

The false sense of superiority, centrality, and separation are such a strain on the heart, that when we finally see our relationship within existence clearly, the contraction in the chest eases, the heart relaxes and expands, and we are finally capable of discovering what love means in its most natural, unrestricted sense.

A bird and a tree say to him: Friend.

We come to live in the community of being.

And when we stop trying to make our lives and every encounter somehow reflect back to us our own self-importance, we begin to relate to ourselves and everything as an expression of the universal impulse toward ripeness:

Then he wants to use himself and things
So that they stand in the glow of ripeness.

We don’t have to have an intellectual understanding of these things, we don’t need to label it according to religion or philosophy.

It doesn’t matter whether he knows what he serves:
Who serves best doesn’t always understand.

Opening, seeing, and serving, these are enough.






Czeslaw Milosz, Czeslaw Milosz poetry, Secular or Eclectic poetry Czeslaw Milosz

Poland (1911 – 2004) Timeline
Secular or Eclectic
Christian : Catholic

Czeslaw Milosz was a Polish-American Nobel Prize winning writer. He was for a rare voice of conscience, human insight, and gentle mysticism, in the midst of the Cold War era that defined the latter half of the 20th century.

Milosz was born in a small town in Lithuania during the final years of czarist Russia. At the end of World War I, while he was still a boy, his family moved to Vilna. There, he received a rigorous Roman Catholic education, but one that didn’t allow for much intellectual freedom or exploration.

After graduating from the University of Vilna in 1934 with a degree in law, Czeslaw Milosz traveled to Paris, where he connected with his uncle, a diplomat who put Milosz in touch with the Parisian arts and poetry community.

Czeslaw Milosz settled in Warsaw just before the German invasion at the beginning of World War II. He became a leading figure in the Warsaw literary scene, and championed art that was both personal and political, rather than merely an expression of aesthetic craft. As the war and occupation continued, Milosz became a writer for the Polish resistance movement.

At the end of the war, when Poland fell under Communist control, Milosz briefly became a diplomat in the service of the new government. However, in the early 1950s, he sought asylum in France, along with his wife and children.

In 1960, Milosz moved to the United States, becoming a professor at the University of California at Berkeley.

Very late in life, Czeslaw Milosz returned to Poland as a cultural hero, and settled in Krakow. It is there that he died in 2004.

More poetry by Czeslaw Milosz

10 responses so far

10 Responses to “Czeslaw Milosz – Love”

  1. simonbaghon 18 Jan 2013 at 12:16 pm

    love is aroma of life if inhaled heals every pain
    otherwise is agitated wholly the state of brain

  2. franon 18 Jan 2013 at 1:10 pm

    God loves each of us as if there were only one of us……..St Augustine
    My first client yesterday quoted this to me, I am grateful to have the lesson repeated today…LOVE, community, join the dance be apart of the ensemble…..thank you

  3. Shellyon 18 Jan 2013 at 1:36 pm

    Really beautiful – both the poem and the commentary. So much more here than one reading will unveil. Thank you for this choice!

  4. marrobon 18 Jan 2013 at 9:33 pm

    Beautiful! I have to echo Shelley’s ‘Really beautiful’, thank Fran for her
    client’s quote from St Augustine & inhale with simonbagh the ‘aroma of love’.

    Thanks for the ‘Love’, the insights of commentary & the comments on the commentaries….and how love / Love goes rippling on and on……..

  5. Michael Skeldingon 19 Jan 2013 at 4:34 am

    The love
    in our lives

    is the light
    of our lives

    and the light
    of our lives

    is our love.

  6. ebrahimon 19 Jan 2013 at 8:22 am

    It is said that the proof that you and existence are one is that creation presents to you the likeness of what you are occupied with at that time. Frans client and Ivans /czewlaw’s poem. yesterday i wrote this little poem in my dairy:

    if they ask you what is life
    say it is love
    and if they ask you what is love
    say it is my life

    Which are timely to Michael simple but beautiful words. More there is to co-incidence.

    St Augustine’s words can be rephrased as – god loves each and everyone as if they were the only one – alive, living!

  7. Pegon 19 Jan 2013 at 8:49 am

    Death pleads its night though light knows the cross is a jest.

    Sight requires seeing in light or in dark. Much love, Peg

  8. Jaune Evanson 19 Jan 2013 at 9:07 am

    Milosz’s poem, Ivan’s commentary, and this blog bring us as readers into the community of the engaged heart. One great heart. Thank you, especially to ebrahim for his words about love/life.
    Grateful for this Poetry Chaik’hana site in my life,
    Jaune

  9. Rena Navonon 21 Jan 2013 at 12:42 am

    A larger community of satisfied people might come out of this open-minded attitude. We are being reminded that there is a better position in the troubled world than we are accustomed to; and to go for it trustingly. Others might even help us once we realize we are not alone.
    Or we could first help them, even if it feels difficult to make the first step. Breaking down our own hesitations must surely make for a good beginning sometimes.

  10. Therese Monaghan O.P.on 23 Jan 2013 at 5:14 am

    I’ve loved this poem for the past two years
    while living here at our Dominican motherhouse –with very many Sisters. I read it aloud each day while walking on the grounds–taking in the insight of “being one among many” and trying to let go of the need to be “special”. Gradually, I’ve let go enough to know that “who serves best doesn’t always understand.”
    It is enough to be–and in this way I am related to all beings, giving and receiving at the same time. And happy! Thank you for this morning gift. I love the picture, too.

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