Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Czeslaw Milosz Takes the Long View in "Forget"

Parnassius mnemosyne ilster.jpg

He had me at the first two lines.  "Forget the suffering / You caused others."  

Forget
Forget the suffering
You caused others.
Forget the suffering
Others caused you.
The waters run and run,
Springs sparkle and are done,
You walk the earth you are forgetting.

Sometimes you hear a distant refrain.
What does it mean, you ask, who is singing?
A childlike sun grows warm.
A grandson and a great-grandson are born.
You are led by the hand once again.

The names of the rivers remain with you.
How endless those rivers seem!
Your fields lie fallow,
The city towers are not as they were.
You stand at the threshold mute.
________
by Czeslaw Milosz


translation by Robert Hass

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