NOVEMBER 7, 1968My belief is that poets should not add to the general confusion by using words in an irresponsible way. A joke should not be presented as a credo. Because of my European background I consider a search for salvation through racial myths, tribal structures, high natural herbs etc. dangerous nonsense.
MARCH 5, 1981Every poet depends upon generations who wrote in his native tongue; he inherits styles and forms elaborated by those who lived before him. At the same time, though, he feels that those old means of expression are not adequate to his own experience.
SEPTEMBER 26, 1985Still one more year of preparation
Tomorrow at the latest I’ll start working on a great book
In which my century will appear as it really was.
The sun will rise over the righteous and the wicked.
Springs and autumns will unerringly return,
In a wet thicket a thrush will build his nest lined with clay
And foxes will learn their foxy natures.
FEBRUARY 27, 1986Do we have a truthful way of thinking, of judging good or evil in the West?
Miłosz: Yes, but under the condition that intellectuals and writers do not insist on forcing nihilism in their descriptions of the world as the only valid image from the point of view of the literary establishment. Of course, every period has its fashions. To break away from fads is extremely difficult. Nihilistic presentation of the world is a fad today.
AUGUST 13, 1992Miłosz’s genius is for the very small and the very large—the intensely sensual detail and the bleak interstellar spaces. His eye, at once microscopic and telescopic, has almost no middle range; it is this peculiar cast of vision that identifies a poem as his. It causes the fundamental contrast in his poetry between the tenderness of an eerily precise recollection and the wintriness of philosophical irony. When you read him, it becomes impossible to live in any comfortable middle distance yourself.
DECEMBER 20, 2001My ears catch less and less of conversations, and my eyes have weakened, though they are still insatiable.
SEPTEMBER 30, 2010Tony Judt
One hundred years after his birth, fifty-seven years after the publication of his seminal essay, Miłosz’s indictment of the servile intellectual rings truer than ever: “his chief characteristic is his fear of thinking for himself.”