Meaning, by Czeslaw Milosz

When I die, I will see the lining of the world.
The other side, beyond bird, mountain, sunset.
The true meaning, ready to be decoded.
What never added up will add Up,
What was incomprehensible will be comprehended.
– And if there is no lining to the world?
If a thrush on a branch is not a sign,
But just a thrush on the branch? If night and day
Make no sense following each other?
And on this earth there is nothing except this earth?
– Even if that is so, there will remain
A word wakened by lips that perish,
A tireless messenger who runs and runs
Through interstellar fields, through the revolving galaxies,
And calls out, protests, screams.

by Czeslaw Milosz (1911-2004)

This poem was read during yesterday’s excellent Words and Music on BBC Radio 3, which was on the theme “Encoded”, which is available on iPlayer.


3 Responses to “Meaning, by Czeslaw Milosz”

  1. Anton Garrett Says:

    I’ll never forget Milosz’s book The Captive Mind, about the effect of communism on intellectuals; in particular the portraits he provides of four of them, under pseudonyms. “Beta” (Tadeusz Borowski) was a poet who had survived Auschwitz and embraced communism with all his heart as the only way to make utterly certain that nothing like that could ever happen again. Then he found out about the gulag. Then he gassed himself.

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