11 Total Quotes

Czeslaw Milosz Quotes

The voice of passion is better than the voice of reason. The passionless cannot change history.
Czeslaw Milosz
#Italian Activist

At the entrance, my bare feet on the dirt floor, Here, gusts of heat; at my back, white clouds. I stare and stare. It seems I was called for this: To glorify things just because they are.
Czeslaw Milosz
#Italian Activist

Human material seems to have one major defect: it does not like to be considered merely as human material. It finds it hard to endure the feeling that it must resign itself to passive acceptance of changes introduced from above.
Czeslaw Milosz
#Italian Activist

Vulgarized knowledge characteristically gives birth to a feeling that everything is understandable and explained. It is like a system of bridges built over chasms. One can travel boldly ahead over these bridges, ignoring the chasms. It is forbidden to look down into them; but that, alas, does not alter the fact that they exist.
Czeslaw Milosz
#Birth

Grow your tree of falsehood from a small grain of truth. Do not follow those who lie in contempt of reality. Let your lie be even more logical than the truth itself, so the weary travelers may find repose.
Czeslaw Milosz
#Italian Activist

What is poetry which does not save nations or people?
Czeslaw Milosz
#Italian Activist

It is impossible to communicate to people who have not experienced it the undefinable menace of total rationalism.
Czeslaw Milosz
#Italian Activist

You whom I could not save Listen to me. Try to understand this simple speech as I would be ashamed of another. I swear, there is in me no wizardry of words. I speak to you with silence like a cloud or a tree. What strengthened me, for you was lethal. You mixed up farewell to an epoch with the beginning of a new one, Inspiration of hatred with lyrical beauty, Blind force with accomplished shape. Here is the valley of shallow Polish rivers. And an immense bridge Going into white fog. Here is a broken city, And the wind throws the screams of gulls on your grave When I am talking with you. What is poetry which does not save Nations or people? A connivance with official lies, A song of drunkards whose throats will be cut in a moment, Readings for sophomore girls. That I wanted good poetry without knowing it, That I discovered, late, its salutary aim, In this and only this I find salvation. They used to pour millet on graves or poppy seeds To feed the dead who would come disguised as birds. I put this book here for you, who once lived So that you should visit us no more.
Czeslaw Milosz
#Dedication #inspirational

1 We, whose lungs fill with the sweetness of day. Who in May admire trees flowering Are better than those who perished. We, who taste of exotic dishes, And enjoy fully the delights of love, Are better than those who were buried. We, from the fiery furnaces, from behind barbed wires On which the winds of endless autumns howled, We, who remember battles where the wounded air roared in paroxysms of pain. We, saved by our own cunning and knowledge. By sending others to the more exposed positions Urging them loudly to fight on Ourselves withdrawing in certainty of the cause lost. Having the choice of our own death and that of a friend We chose his, coldly thinking: Let it be done quickly. We sealed gas chamber doors, stole bread Knowing the next day would be harder to bear than the day before. As befits human beings, we explored good and evil. Our malignant wisdom has no like on this planet. Accept it as proven that we are better than they, The gullible, hot-blooded weaklings, careless with their lives. 2 Treasure your legacy of skills, child of Europe. Inheritor of Gothic cathedrals, of baroque churches. Of synagogues filled with the wailing of a wronged people. Successor of Descartes, Spinoza, inheritor of the word 'honor', Posthumous child of Leonidas Treasure the skills acquired in the hour of terror. You have a clever mind which sees instantly The good and bad of any situation. You have an elegant, skeptical mind which enjoys pleasures Quite unknown to primitive races. Guided by this mind you cannot fail to see The soundness of the advice we give you: Let the sweetness of day fill your lungs For this we have strict but wise rules. 3 There can be no question of force triumphant We live in the age of victorious justice. Do not mention force, or you will be accused Of upholding fallen doctrines in secret. He who has power, has it by historical logic. Respectfully bow to that logic. Let your lips, proposing a hypothesis Not know about the hand faking the experiment. Let your hand, faking the experiment No know about the lips proposing a hypothesis. Learn to predict a fire with unerring precision Then burn the house down to fulfill the prediction. 4 Grow your tree of falsehood from a single grain of truth. Do not follow those who lie in contempt of reality. Let your lie be even more logical than the truth itself So the weary travelers may find repose in the lie. After the Day of the Lie gather in select circles Shaking with laughter when our real deeds are mentioned. Dispensing flattery called: perspicacious thinking. Dispensing flattery called: a great talent. We, the last who can still draw joy from cynicism. We, whose cunning is not unlike despair. A new, humorless generation is now arising It takes in deadly earnest all we received with laughter. 5 Let your words speak not through their meanings But through them against whom they are used. Fashion your weapon from ambiguous words. Consign clear words to lexical limbo. Judge no words before the clerks have checked In their card index by whom they were spoken. The voice of passion is better than the voice of reason. The passionless cannot change history. 6 Love no country: countries soon disappear Love no city: cities are soon rubble. Throw away keepsakes, or from your desk A choking, poisonous fume will exude. Do not love people: people soon perish. Or they are wronged and call for your help. Do not gaze into the pools of the past. Their corroded surface will mirror A face different from the one you expected. 7 He who invokes history is always secure. The dead will not rise to witness against him. You can accuse them of any deeds you like. Their reply will always be silence. Their empty faces swim out of the deep dark. You can fill them with any feature desired. Proud of dominion over people long vanished, Change the past into your own, better likeness. 8 The laughter born of the love of truth Is now the laughter of the enemies of the people. Gone is the age of satire. We no longer need mock. The sensible monarch with false courtly phrases. Stern as befits the servants of a cause, We will permit ourselves sycophantic humor. Tight-lipped, guided by reasons only Cautiously let us step into the era of the unchained fire.
Czeslaw Milosz
#Humorous

You ask me how to pray to someone who is not. All I know is that prayer constructs a velvet bridge And walking it we are aloft, as on a springboard, Above landscapes the color of ripe gold Transformed by a magic stopping of the sun. That bridge leads to the shore of Reversal Where everything is just the opposite and the word 'is' Unveils a meaning we hardly envisioned. Notice: I say we; there, every one, separately, Feels compassion for others entangled in the flesh And knows that if there is no other shore We will walk that aerial bridge all the same.
Czeslaw Milosz
#Prayer