Nature Poems

Two Czesław Miłosz poems in translation, then a couple of compositions by Eric Satie. You will enjoy the video if you have half-an-hour to detach.

The Sun

All colors come from the sun. And it does not have
Any particular color, for it contains them all.
And the whole Earth is like a poem
While the sun above represents the artist

Whoever wants to paint the variegated world
Let him never look straight at the sun
Or he will lose the memory of things he has seen.
Only burning tears will stay in his eyes.

Let him kneel down, lower his face to the grass,
And look at the light reflected on the ground.
There he will find everything we have lost:
The stars and the roses, the dusks and the dawns.

— Czesław Miłosz, 1943

***

To Robinson Jeffers

If you have not read the Slavic poets
so much the better. There’s nothing there
for a Scotch-Irish wanderer to seek. They lived in a childhood
prolonged from age to age. For them, the sun
was a farmer’s ruddy face, the moon peeped through a cloud
and the Milky Way gladdened them like a birch-lined road.
They longed for the Kingdom which is always near,
always right at hand. Then, under apple trees
angels in homespun linen will come parting the boughs
and at the white kolkhoz tablecloth
cordiality and affection will feast (falling to the ground at times).

And you are from surf-rattled skerries. From the heaths
where burying a warrior they broke his bones
so he could not haunt the living. From the sea night
which your forefathers pulled over themselves, without a word.
Above your head no face, neither the sun’s nor the moon’s,
only the throbbing of galaxies, the immutable
violence of new beginnings, of new destruction.

All your life listening to the ocean. Black dinosaurs
wade where a purple zone of phosphorescent weeds
rises and falls on the waves as in a dream. And Agamemnon
sails the boiling deep to the steps of the palace
to have his blood gush onto marble. Till mankind passes
and the pure and stony earth is pounded by the ocean.

Thin-lipped, blue-eyed, without grace or hope,
before God the Terrible, body of the world.
Prayers are not heard. Basalt and granite.
Above them, a bird of prey. The only beauty.

What have I to do with you? From footpaths in the orchards,
from an untaught choir and shimmers of a monstrance,
from flower beds of rue, hills by the rivers, books
in which a zealous Lithuanian announced brotherhood, I come.
Oh, consolations of mortals, futile creeds.

And yet you did not know what I know. The earth teaches
More than does the nakedness of elements. No one with impunity
gives to himself the eyes of a god. So brave, in a void,
you offered sacrifices to demons: there were Wotan and Thor,
the screech of Erinyes in the air, the terror of dogs
when Hekate with her retinue of the dead draws near.

Better to carve suns and moons on the joints of crosses
as was done in my district. To birches and firs
give feminine names. To implore protection
against the mute and treacherous might
than to proclaim, as you did, an inhuman thing.

— Czesław Miłosz (1963)

***

A cold landscape generates inner heat. The Earth is a big place.

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22 thoughts on “Nature Poems

  1. Pingback: Nature Poems | Reaction Times

  2. Jeffers is the Milosz of tragic Amerikaner California, a true pagan worthy of respect, though not emulation.

    Johnathan Bowden has a great talk on Jeffers on youtube somewhere.

  3. Jeffers was a seer in that he, almost alone, saw the coming of the American Empire and knew it would be a ghastly thing. I doubt he could have foreseen the multi-cult tranny lunatic asylum that it’s become, but he understood the desire for power of the ruling class. He had FDR’s number from the start — “the cripple’s power-need of Roosevelt” — and he pegged Churchill perfectly — “a gin-muddled butcher-boy.” Jeffers was dead against America’s entry into WWII, and he was right.

    “Staggering Back Toward Life”

    Radar and rocket-plane, the applications of chemistry, the tricks of physics: new cunning rather
    Than new science: but they work. The time is in fact
    A fever-crisis; the fag-end of nominal peace before these wars, and the so-called peace to follow them,
    Are, with the wars, one fever; the world one hospital;
    The semi-delirious patient his brain breeds dreams like flies, but they are giants. And they work. The question is
    How much of all this amazing lumber the pale convalescent
    Staggering back toward life will be able to carry up the steep gorges that thrid the cliffs of the future?
    I hope, not much. We need a new dark-age, five hundred years of winter and the tombs for dwellings — but it’s remote still.

  4. One of my favorite short Jeffers quotes:

    “The human race is bound to defile, I’ve often noticed it,
    Whatever they can reach or name, they’d shit on the morning star
    If they could reach.”

  5. Ok, last one.

    “Ink-Sack”

    The squid, frightened or angry, shoots darkness
    Out of her ink-sack; the fighting destroyer throws out a smoke-screen;
    And fighting governments produce lies.
    But squid and warship do it to confuse the enemy, governments
    Mostly to stupefy their own people.
    It might be better to let the roof burn and the walls crash
    Than save a nation with floods of excrement.

  6. Much appreciated comments, Peterike and Nozdryov. I’ve known of Jeffers since college but hadn’t been famiar with his work.

  7. “…it would be a ghastly thing.”

    Baudrillard’s 1989 work called “America” captures the underlying current of the scene/s we are indeed facing refreshingly succinctly. He employs a citron dryness in his observations that can typically only be found in certain strands of contemporary classical music. The Albarino of Western critiques. Thanks for the poetry.

  8. I am. You keep your country through high-minded patriotic tradition, such as commemorating the outbreak of the Warsaw Uprising every August 1st at 5pm with air raid sirens and a minute of silence…

    … and by getting dirty when home is to be defended. One without the other is ineffective.

    I talked about xenophobia here:

    https://paworldandtimes.wordpress.com/2017/01/03/defending-elk/

    As to the muzzie bitch sob stories, I’m sure that they didn’t do anything to provoke hostility. /s

    The EU is pushing those stories though. Their goal is to whip up hate for Poland maybe to generate support for a war.

    But the unintended effect of those xenophobia stories, is that they’re giving occupied Western Europeans some ideas: “hmm… maybe we don’t have to live like this… those muds really are ugly and unpleasant to have around, and a little too accustomed to us walking on eggshells…”

  9. Jeffers is the Milosz of tragic Amerikaner California, a true pagan worthy of respect, though not emulation.

    I can’t imagine what the old, rugged Californian writers (like Jack London or Frank Norris) would think of that state now.

  10. Poetry is hard.

    A commenter on the internet made the emphatic point that poetry is to be read aloud.

    If it is not read aloud, it is not poetry.

    My liberal arts education included maybe three or four intermediate classes on literature and with poems — and I tell you now, not one of those professors and nor their assistants, imparted to us students that dictum.

  11. Poland and California are interesting places. Very far apart, but seemingly having something together in spirit.

    California is “the prophet of the Golden Shore” in the words of Robert Hunter and as and sung (spoken aloud) by the Dead.

    Back 50 years ago it was still the place of the American Dream, and for longer than that it has contained some of the most vigorous of the Saxon race. That statement was received wisdom at the turn of the last century (it’s not just AR wankery). It was written about at length by Stoddard in his book, which book was a bestseller.

    Those people out there, still of that race, morphed into Surfer and Ski Bum culture. That is literally exactly what they became. Surfers in the 60s and then in the 80s after that was played out, ski bums. Those great athletes and most vigorous specimens — but counterculture and rough and tumble and mountain men and rebels.

    But by the time Gen X rolled around, it had morphed into Dumb and Dumber. (“literally”) And that is my story, which i won’t bore you with more.

    But anyone with experience in those cultures, knows that those guys are of that type.

    I only bring that up, because that was the dream that was presented to us, as the hero’s journey. Was to be a ski bum. A noble calling perhaps, but what about for those (ahem) without the talent?

  12. The hottest and most authentic book — and I say with confidence and authority — published in the mainstream and by an American author in the last two or four years, is

    Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life, by William Finnegan

    It won the Pulitzer and it is the real deal. I listened to it on audio this last winter, as I (successfully) undertook my knitting projects.

    But it is a study in contemporary culture, in oh so many ways. And if only I had the patience to give it the treatment it deserves!

    But the author is, like Frank McCourt, American but Irish first or second generation. And again like McCourt, he is defining the most relevant contemporary genre — the ONLY relevant (and extant) contemporary genre, which is memoir.

    READ the motherfucker.

    Finnegan is a late Boomer and infected with liberalism. He is also a genius and a golden boy barbarian top-notch surfer. The book’s critical cultural significance, in my never humble estimation, is how he “squares the circle” of liberalism with authenticity.

    Like that other book The Places in Between, by Rory Stewart — squaring that circle is THE KEY to success, in this pozzed world.

  13. It is a frustrating read, the book by Finnegan, because a guy like that is the creme de la creme of talent and intelligence. Like my high school peers, well within the top five per cent in both intelligence and physical strength and vigor. Except in his case, moreso.

    And yet he ends up writing for the New Yorker, and the rest of the top-end prestige press, about racism in South Africa and the rest of the cliches. In between his very real and total dedication to the mystical sport of wave-riding.

    It is worth pointing out (that point above — why is Finnegan a fucking liberal cliche?), in light of our recent Boomer problems. It has to be kept in mind, that the AESTHETICS of the world and culture that they came into — were null and void and bullshit and crap and not worth fighting for or defending or living in. And so they wanted nothing to do with them. And they associated those SHIT-TIER AESTHETICS with America and Whiteness and technology and for that matter racism.

  14. The audio version of that book is read by the author himself, and so there is that extra dimension in its selections and interpretation and presentation.

    He has that Irish way with words, with there seems to be that primitive primal connection with their sound and meaning. Yeats of course is (they say) the sterling example of that, and supposedly the best poet. The only poet.

    I find the Gaelic place names and other words in Yeats, to be a stumbling block.

    Finnegan’s memoir is so … unusual … and yet so typically American … and yet first-generation Irish … and but still California and America back when it full of aggressive young go-getters (with full heads of hair).

    Finnegan’s father went into television production and so all that entails.

    It is a story of how the best of men somehow managed to ‘live the dream’ — but how do they square that, with what has become of America?

    Finnegan doesn’t address contemporary politics at all, except obliquely and then from a perspective that is full-on leapfrog in its sympathies.

    I am going on about this because the theme that the book represents, is the hero’s quest, and what became of that journey, in the second half of 20th century America.

    What became of the hero’s quest?

    It became a surfing life. And then a Warren Miller film. And then Dumb and Dumber.

    And if only that were a joke — but it’s not. Dumb and Dumber was the defining film of my generation. Without a doubt, it is the only film that really rang the bell. Nothing else even came close.

  15. — Surfers in the 60s and then in the 80s after that was played out, ski bums.

    The arc as you capture it is valid. There a are two complicating data points: 90s there was about extreme sports. Today, the clashes and street trouncing of Antifa were in California.

  16. “And of course Jim Carrey is full-on Irish. Talent, raw-boned, kinetic, verbal. Liberal Irish-assed traitor.”

    Just to correct, Carrey is not raw-boned he is gangly.

    It fits to the general theme of how over the last few generations, the phenotype has changed.

    Raw-boned was a descriptor that Steinbeck used to like to use, for those characters such as Goad. Nowadays not so much.

  17. So according to that link, the courts and their administration in Germany are intimidated by the new Bosses on the Street, into leniency submission.

    The effect of such intimidation on the morale of the police, is noted to be not good.

    It is interesting to compare that sort of intimidation and leniency to America and how it plays out here, where the judges and administrators are not threatened directly by the criminals themselves, but rather the prevailing status structures control their actions.

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