Saturday, January 21, 2006

Czeslaw Milosz: Should, Should Not

A man should not love the moon.
An axe should not lose weight in his hand.
His garden should smell of rottng apples
And grow a fair amount of nettles.
A man when he talks should not use words that are dear to him,
Or split open a seed to find out what is inside it.
He should not drop a crumb of bread, or spit in the fire
(So at least I was taught in Lithuania).
When he steps on marble stairs,
He may, that boor, try to chip them with his boot
As a reminder thtat the stairs will not last forever.

I love the earthiness of it--like Seamus Heaney. My favorit is that last full sentence. There's a double lesson there. As I try to chip the stair I will be rarely successful, reminding me that I am a Soft Thing, a fleeting breath compared to this monolith. Yet on those occasions when I derive a chip--"Ha! There it is!"--I rejoice that this great thing is still finite, still on myside of the divide.

There's a great interview with Milosz where he makes some excellent remarks about the liturgy. Also Catholic Culture has a pretty detailed article on Milosz as Catholic poet.

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