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Czesław Miłosz Czesław Miłosz > Quotes

Czesław Miłosz quotes (showing 1-30 of 71)

“Not that I want to be a god or a hero. Just to change into a tree, grow for ages, not hurt anyone.”
Czesław Miłosz
“In a room where
people unanimously maintain
a conspiracy of silence,
one word of truth
sounds like a pistol shot.”
Czesław Miłosz

To believe you are magnificent. And gradually to discover that you are not magnificent. Enough labor for one human life.”
Czesław Miłosz
“The purpose of poetry is to remind us
how difficult it is to remain just one person,
for our house is open, there are no keys in the doors,
and invisible guests come in and out at will.”
Czesław Miłosz
“Yet falling in love is not the same as being able to love.”
Czesław Miłosz, Selected Poems Selected Poems
“The living owe it to those who no longer can speak to tell their story for them.”
Czesław Miłosz, The Issa Valley
“Language is the only homeland.”
Czesław Miłosz
“A true opium of the people is a belief in nothingness after death - the huge solace of thinking that for our betrayals, greed, cowardice, murders we are not going to be judged.”
Czesław Miłosz
“Tomber amoureux. To fall in love. Does it occur suddenly or gradually? If gradually, when is the moment “already”? I would fall in love with a monkey made of rags. With a plywood squirrel. With a botanical atlas. With an oriole. With a ferret. With a marten in a picture. With the forest one sees to the right when riding in a cart to Jaszuny. With a poem by a little-known poet. With human beings whose names still move me. And always the object of love was enveloped in erotic fantasy or was submitted, as in Stendhal, to a “cristallisation,” so it is frightful to think of that object as it was, naked among the naked things, and of the fairy tales about it one invents. Yes, I was often in love with something or someone. Yet falling in love is not the same as being able to love. That is something different.”
Czesław Miłosz
“And Yet the Books

And yet the books will be there on the shelves, separate beings,
That appeared once, still wet
As shining chestnuts under a tree in autumn,
And, touched, coddled, began to live
In spite of fires on the horizon, castles blown up,
Tribes on the march, planets in motion.
“We are,” they said, even as their pages
Were being torn out, or a buzzing flame
Licked away their letters. So much more durable
Than we are, whose frail warmth
Cools down with memory, disperses, perishes.
I imagine the earth when I am no more:
Nothing happens, no loss, it's still a strange pageant,
Women's dresses, dewy lilacs, a song in the valley.
Yet the books will be there on the shelves, well born,
Derived from people, but also from radiance, heights.”
Czesław Miłosz

Calm down. Both your sins and your good deeds will be lost in oblivion.”
Czesław Miłosz, New and Collected Poems: 1931-2001
“You see how I try
To reach with words
What matters most
And how I fail.”
Czesław Miłosz
“When a writer is born into a family, the family is finished.”
Czesław Miłosz
“What has no shadow has no strength to live.”
Czesław Miłosz
“The voice of passion is better than the voice of reason. The passionless cannot change history.”
Czesław Miłosz
“I was not meant to live anywhere except in Paradise.
Such, simply, was my genetic inadaptation.
Here on earth every prick of a rose-thorn changed into a wound. When the sun hid behind a cloud, I grieved.
I pretended to work like others from morning to evening, but I was absent, dedicated to invisible countries.”
Czesław Miłosz
“The history of my stupidity would fill many volumes.”
Czesław Miłosz
“The purpose of poetry is to remind us / how difficult it is to remain just one person...”
Czesław Miłosz
“No duties. I don’t have to be profound.
I don’t have to be artistically perfect.
Or sublime. Or edifying.
I just wander. I say: ‘You were running,
That’s fine. It was the thing to do.’
And now the music of the worlds transforms me.
My planet enters a different house.
Trees and lawns become more distinct.
Philosophies one after another go out.
Everything is lighter yet not less odd.
Sauces, wine vintages, dishes of meat.
We talk a little of district fairs,
Of travels in a covered wagon with a cloud of dust behind,
Of how rivers once were, what the scent of calamus is.
That’s better than examining one’s private dreams.
And meanwhile it has arrived. It’s here, invisible.
Who can guess how it got here, everywhere.
Let others take care of it. Time for me to play hooky.
Buena notte. Ciao. Farewell.”
Czesław Miłosz
“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.”
Czesław Miłosz
“I imagine the earth when I am no more:
Women's dresses, dewy lilacs, a song in the valley.
Yet the books will be there on the shelves, well born,
Derived from people, but also from radiance, heights.”
Czesław Miłosz
“Religion used to be the opium of the people. To those suffering humiliation, pain, illness, and serfdom, religion promised the reward of an after life. But now, we are witnessing a transformation, a true opium of the people is the belief in nothingness after death, the huge solace, the huge comfort of thinking that for our betrayals, our greed, our cowardice, our murders, we are not going to be judged.”
Czesław Miłosz
“The true enemy of man is generalization.”
Czesław Miłosz, Testimony to the Invisible: Essays on Swedenborg
“He returns years later, has no demands.
He wants only one, most precious thing:
To see, purely and simply, without name,
Without expectations, fears, or hopes,
At the edge where there is no I or not-I.”
Czesław Miłosz
“I have defined poetry as a 'passionate pursuit of the Real.”
Czesław Miłosz
“It is sweet to think I was a companion in an expedition that never ends”
Czesław Miłosz
“All of us yearn for the highest wisdom, but we have to rely on ourselves in the end.”
Czesław Miłosz
“1. That reason is a gift of God and that we should believe in its ability to comprehend the world.

2. That they have been wrong who undermined confidence in reason by enumerating the forces that want to usurp it: class struggle, libido, will to power.

3. That we should be aware that our being is enclosed within the circle of its perceptions, but not reduce reality to dreams and the phantoms of the mind.

4. That truth is a proof of freedom and that the sign of slavery is the lie.

5. That the proper attitude toward being is respect and that we must, therefore, avoid the company of people who debase being with their sarcasm, and praise nothingness.

6. That, even if we are accused of arrogance, it is the case that in the life of the mind a strict hierarchy is necessary.

7. That intellectuals in the twentieth century were afflicted with the habit of baratin, i.e., irresponsible jabber.

8. That in the hierarchy of human activities the arts stand higher than philosophy, and yet bad philosophy can spoil art.

9. That the objective truth exists; namely, out of two contrary assertions, one is true, one false, except in strictly defined cases when maintaining contradiction is legitimate.

10. That quite independently of the fate of religious denominations we should preserve a "philosophical faith," i.e., a belief in transcendence as a measure of humanity.

11. That time excludes and sentences to oblivion only those works of our hands and minds which prove worthless in raising up, century after century, the huge edifice of civilization.

12. That in our lives we should not succumb to despair because of our errors and our sins, for the past is never closed down and receives the meaning we give it by our subsequent acts.”
Czesław Miłosz, New and Collected Poems: 1931-2001
“You who think of us: they lived only in delusion... Know that we the People of the Book, will never die!”
Czesław Miłosz
“Irony is the glory of slaves.”
Czesław Miłosz

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