How did I miss the passing of poet Czeslaw Milosz (1911-2004) two weeks ago? A Nobel laureate born in Lithuania*, he flourished in Poland and spent many years teaching in the U.S. While I am not as good about reading great poets in translation as I wish, I am pleased that I had the opportunity to hear Milosz read and talk about his work in the last decade, at a small college nearby (my father's alma mater, in fact). It took the arrival of this week's New Yorker for me to receive this news. I read all four of the featured poems, and would like to share this small and appropriate one, translated from Polish by the author and Robert Haas.
If There Is No God
If there is no God,
Not everything is permitted to man.
He is still his brother's keeper
And he is not permitted to sadden his brother,
By saying that there is no God.
*I got my title from this translation site, which offered the same word for Farewell and Goodbye; it's Polish link was not working (but please, out of respect for a great man often called Coleslaw by Americans, don't start thinking of jokes). In a note of weird synchronicity, I think the night he died was the one I watched Under the Tuscan Sun on cable, in which the American protagonist attempts friendship with her Polish laborers by waving a volume of Milosz's poems at them . . .
As my mom might say, this has been a week from hell-o-Pete. As noted in the prior entry, I had a major project deadline at work and it took almost my every waking hour ~ or at least those when the Wee One was asleep. The job was handed off to the printer at 6:15 this evening, though, and I have a vacation day tomorrow. I'm off to a wedding of a friend of two decades, in the Carolina Smokies. I've a long drive ahead, with a couple of audio books and no passenger. So here's hoping for a bit of R&R for one weary momma, who probably will not even devote time to the city's top o'the line attractions. But I will be knitting (Rainbow Penny still approaches the finish line; tomorrow's party doesn't start till nine ~), and perhaps visiting a LYS or two, and running into friends or fellow bloggers.