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Wednesday, 27 December 2017

Czeslaw Milosz and Timoshenko Aslanides: Extracts from Two Poetic Letters, or Appeals

Are you in harmony with your surroundings?

Do you feel really at home where you live?

Czeslaw Milosz:

From An Appeal

You, my friends, wherever you are,
Whether you are grieving just now, or full of joy,
To you I lift this cup of pungent wine
As they often do in the land of France.
From a landscape of cranes and canals,
Of tangled railway tracks and winter fog,
In the smoke of black tobacco, I make my way
Toward you and I ask you a question.
Tell me, for once at least laying
Caution aside, and fear and guarded speech,
Tell me, as you would in the middle of the night
When we face only night, the ticking of a watch,
The whistle of an express train, tell me
Whether you really think that this world
Is your home? That your internal planet
That revolves, red-hot, propelled by the current
Of your warm blood, is really in harmony
With what surrounds you?

Written in Brie-Comte-Robert, 1954; included in "From the Rising of the Sun", 1974.

Timoshenko Aslanides, a distinguished Australian poet, notes that his own poem "Letter (an appeal)" is an imitation of "An Appeal" by Czeslaw Milosz. This extract comes from the poem published in Aslanides' collection Australian alphabet, Butterfly Books, 1992:

An article: Czeslaw Milosz’s Battle for Truth, The New Yorker, May 29, 2017

An interview: Czeslaw Milosz, The Art of Poetry No. 70, Paris Review, Winter 1994

Australia's ongoing cultural cringe, Timoshenko Aslanides, Independent Australia, 19 June, 2016

Timoshenko Aslanides, website

Books available from the author

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