After the outbreak of World War I, Aleksander Milosz was drafted into the Tsar's army, and as a combat engineer he built bridges and fortifications in front-line areas. His wife and son accompanied him in his constant travels throughout Russia.
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The family returned to Lithuania until , settling in Wilno then a part of Poland; also called Vilnius or Vilna. In he cofounded the Polish avant-garde literary group "Zagary"; his first collection of verse appeared in In he earned a master of law degree and traveled to Paris on a fellowship from the National Culture Fund. In he began working as a literary programmer for Radio Wilno.
He was dismissed for his leftist views the following year and, after a trip to Italy, took a job with Polish Radio in Warsaw.
Czesław Miłosz papers
After the war, he came to the United States as a diplomat for the Polish communist government, working at the Polish consulate first in New York City, then in Washington D. In he was transferred to Paris, and the following year he requested and received political asylum. He spent the next decade in Paris as a freelance writer. In he moved to the United States to become a lecturer in Polish literature at the University of California at Berkeley. He later became professor of Slavic languages and literature.
He did not visit Poland again until In , Milosz was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. He has written virtually all of his poems in his native Polish, although his work was banned in Poland until after he won the Nobel Prize. He died on August 14, Knopf, On the day the world ends A bee circles a clover, A fisherman mends a glimmering net. Happy porpoises jump in the sea, By the rainspout young sparrows are playing And the snake is gold-skinned as it should always be.
On the day the world ends Women walk through the fields under their umbrellas, A drunkard grows sleepy at the edge of a lawn, Vegetable peddlers shout in the street And a yellow-sailed boat comes nearer the island, The voice of a violin lasts in the air And leads into a starry night.
And those who expected lightning and thunder Are disappointed.
And those who expected signs and archangels' trumps Do not believe it is happening now. As long as the sun and the moon are above, As long as the bumblebee visits a rose, As long as rosy infants are born No one believes it is happening now. Only a white-haired old man, who would be a prophet Yet is not a prophet, for he's much too busy, Repeats while he binds his tomatoes: No other end of the world will there be, No other end of the world will there be.
Born on August 2, , the poet Bei Dao is the author of several books of poetry and has been Materials for Teachers Materials for Teachers Home. Poems for Kids. Poems for Teens.
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Academy of American Poets. National Poetry Month. In he was transferred to the embassy in Paris. What is extraordinary is that, from across the Atlantic, he somehow learned everything there was to know about what it was like to live under Soviet communism. It was an astonishing evocation of the compromises forced on writers and intellectuals in eastern Europe, of how so many ended up betraying their ideals and embracing Stalinist oppression.
Only Camus and a few Polish literary figures stood by him. In he was invited to teach Polish and Russian literature at Berkeley. He lived more than 30 years in California.
Milosz: A Biography review – Polish poet’s journey to Nobel fame
At first, he was barely known outside a small circle of students and translators. The great turning point came in , when he was awarded the Nobel Prize. His poems were soon widely translated; they appeared in the New Yorker and were reviewed in the New York Review of Books. He also made important friendships with other poets such as Seamus Heaney and Brodsky.
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Crucially, around this time, central Europe emerged from the deep freeze of the Cold War. There was a Polish pope; Solidarity was founded; Soviet communism fell. Franaszek captures this life in all its complexity and darkness. He outlived two wives and countless friends.