I’m no stranger to Milosz – my Polish classmates are very loud and proud about his writing, and even though I am Ukrainian I am quite familiar with many Slavic writers. I’ve read some of his poems here and there before, a few in their original Polish to practice and see how much of them I can understand. So it was exciting to find out my prof chose Milosz’s poetry to study in our course.
I didn’t read the entire book, as we only had to focus on two sections: “Rescue” (1945) and “Unattainable Earth” (1986). Despite not reading the collection from cover to cover, the two specific sections were enough for me to grasp the style of Milosz’s writing and come to love it. There is such clarity in his poems, with simple but thoughtful imagery that speaks to the very basics of life. Poems like “A Book in the Ruins”, “The World”, “The Garden of Earthly Delights”, and “The Hooks of a Corset” – the four poems that stood out to me the most – are particularly worth paying attention to as they offer their own microcosm with a timeline that is distinct from all other poems, rich with the narrator’s thoughts that are always the focal point of the poem.
I wasn’t lost in every single poem. I found something to love and ponder over in each one, but when it comes to being completely engulfed by the experience, I didn’t have that happen with every poem. I do however agree with people who say that Milosz is one of the best and most influential poets of the 20th century. There is much to love in his poems, honest and insightful with a refreshing honesty.