Milosz + Wilbur

Gareth, were you wondering where your copy of Bells in Winter went? Well, I have it. You and I made a little trade during what I believe was my last visit to Zingerman’s Deli with you and Noelle. I lent you Eric Voegelin’s Science, Politics, and Gnosticism, and left your fair apartment with your volume of Milosz. If you’d like it back, I can mail it to you. It’s been well-used, though, just so you know.

Those of you not Gareth, I’m sorry for that little bit of inside baseball…

Summer has availed me more occasions for a much-loved pastime of mine: reading poetry. Yes, reading. I read better poetry than I write, and I like to think that doing so has a sort of toning effect on my own poetic imagination. In any case, a recent encounter with these two poems fairly well compelled me to share them. I present them to you here in tandem, for that is how I encountered them — one right after another. Quite a lovely (and very arresting) coincidence, it was. I hope you enjoy them.


An Hour

by Czeslaw Milosz

Leaves glowing in the sun, zealous hum of bumble bees,

From afar, from somewhere beyond the river, echoes of lingering voices
And the unhurried sounds of a hammer gave joy not only to me.
Before the five senses were opened, and earlier than any beginning
They waited, ready, for all those who would call themselves mortals,
So that they might praise, as I do, life, that is, happiness.



by Richard Wilbur

Give thanks for all things

On the plucked lute, and likewise
The harp of ten strings.

Have the lifted horn
Greatly blare, and pronounce it
Good to have been born.

Lend the breath of life
To the stops of the sweet flute
Or capering fife,

And tell the deep drum
To make, at the right juncture,

Then, in grave relief,
Praise, too, our sorrows on the
Cello of shared grief.