Today is poet and professor Czeslaw Milosz’s birthday, born in Szetejnie, Lithuania in 1911. He maintained “Language is the only homeland,” was fired from his radio work for his leftist views, and received a tip that the Stalinist government was going to arrest him and put him on trial so he fled.
Milosz became a professor of Slavic languages and literature at Berkeley where he continued to write. In 1980, he got a phone call at three in the morning telling him he’d won the Nobel Prize in literature.
“The purpose of poetry is to remind us how difficult it is to remain just one person,” Milosz said. “For our house is open, there are no keys in the doors, and invisible guests come in and out at will.”
Here’s a roundup of the author’s work from the New York Review of Books archive. I would especially encourage you not to miss his December 2001 poem, “An Honest Description of Myself with a Glass of Whiskey at An Airport, Let Us Say, in Minneapolis” that contains the following snip: “Old lecher, it’s time for you to the grave”