Ode to Friday: Milosz


Not soon, as late as the approach of my ninetieth year,
I felt a door opening in me and I entered
the clarity of early morning.

One after another my former lives were departing,
like ships, together with their sorrow.

And the countries, cities, gardens, the bays of seas
assigned to my brush came closer,
ready now to be described better than they were before.

I was not separated from people,
grief and pity joined us.
We forget – I kept saying – that we are all children of the King.

For where we come from there is no division
into Yes and No, into is, was, and will be.

We were miserable, we used no more than a hundredth part
of the gift we received for our long journey.

Moments from yesterday and from centuries ago –
a sword blow, the painting of eyelashes before a mirror
of polished metal, a lethal musket shot, a caravel
staving its hull against a reef – they dwell in us,
waiting for a fulfillment.

I knew, always, that I would be a worker in the vineyard,
as are all men and women living at the same time,
whether they are aware of it or not.

~ Late Ripeness by Czeslaw Milosz (1911-2004, Lithuanian)


Image: The smile on the face of my morning coffee, courtesy of the man at Tivoli Road Bakery.


10 thoughts on “Ode to Friday: Milosz

    • Hi Mrs Daffodil. How are you?

      The poet’s describing the same experience I had standing on the street corner a few years ago when the door opened in me. It opens onto outer space, the realm where there is no is, was and will be, where every person who’s ever been and ever will be is here, now, arising, all of a piece, in the clearing that you are, the clearing that I am; where time is a fiction. It’s the realm of eternal life in Christian vocabulary, nirvana or many other words in Buddhist vocabulary (the eastern world has words for states of experience that the world based on the Latin language, the west, does not have available). It’s the realm in which you are everything/no-thing and it’s here all the time xx


  1. A beautiful poem. I have an 87 year old friend. He thinks I’m a ‘youngster.’ I don’t feel any such thing myself but of course it’s all relative. However I can see where Milosz is coming from. And he says it so very beautifully.


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