Czeslaw Milosz – A Treatise On Poetry


From the Preface – A Treatise On Poetry, 2001, HarperCollins, NY, translated by Robert Haas:

First, plain speech in the mother tongue.

Hearing it you should be able to see,

as if in a flash of summer lightning,

Apple trees, a river, a bend of a road.

And it should contain more than images.

Singsong lured it into being,

Melody, a daydream, Defenceless,

It was bypassed by the dry, sharp world.

You often ask yourself why you feel shame

Whenever you look through a book of poems.

As if the author, for reasons unclear to you,

Addressed the worst side of your nature,

Pushing thought aside, cheating thought.

Poetry, seasoned with satire, clowning,

Jokes, still knows how to please.

Then its excellence is much admired.

But serious combat, where life is at stake,

Is fought in prose. It was not always so.

And our regret has remained unconfessed.

Novels and essays serve but will not last.

One clear stanza can take more weight

Than a whole wagon of elaborate prose.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: