Finding Solace in the Poetry of Czeslaw Milosz

I’d like to express my deep sorrow over the tragic loss of life in Newtown, Conn., and my profound sympathy for the families that are suffering. Words feel inadequate in the face of such unspeakable horror, but at a time like this, they are all we have.

So I turn to the Nobelist Czeslaw Milosz, a Polish poet born in Lithuania in 1911, in the hopes that his words will offer the tiniest salve:


—When I die, I will see the lining of the world.
The other side, beyond bird, mountain, sunset.
The true meaning, ready to be decoded.
What never added up will add Up, 
What was incomprehensible will be comprehended.

—And if there is no lining to the world? 
If a thrush on a branch is not a sign, 
But just a thrush on the branch? If night and day
Make no sense following each other? 
And on this earth there is nothing except this earth? 

—Even if that is so, there will remain
A word wakened by lips that perish, 
A tireless messenger who runs and runs
Through interstellar fields, through the revolving galaxies, 
And calls out, protests, screams.