by Czeslaw Milosz
Not soon, as late
as the approach of my ninetieth year,
I felt a door opening in me and I
the clarity of early morning.
One after another my former
lives were departing,
Like ships, together with their sorrow.
countries, cities, gardens, the bays of seas
assigned to my brush came
ready now to be described better than they were
I was not separated from
grief and pity joined us.
We forget -- I kept saying -- that
we are all children of
For where we come from there is no
Into Yes and No, into is, was, and it will be.
miserable, we used no more than a hundredth part
of the gift we received for
our long journey.
Moments from yesterday and from centuries ago --
sword blow, the painting of eyelashes before a mirror
of polished metal, a
lethal musket shot, a caravel
staving its hull against a reef -- they dwell
waiting for a fulfillment.
I knew, always, that I would be a
worker in the vineyard,
as are all men and women living at the same
whether they are aware of it or not.