Veni Creator

By Czeslaw Milosz 1911–2004 Czeslaw Milosz

Translated By Czeslaw Milosz and Robert Pinsky

Come, Holy Spirit,   
bending or not bending the grasses,   
appearing or not above our heads in a tongue of flame,   
at hay harvest or when they plough in the orchards or when snow   
covers crippled firs in the Sierra Nevada.   
I am only a man: I need visible signs.   
I tire easily, building the stairway of abstraction.   
Many a time I asked, you know it well, that the statue in church   
lifts its hand, only once, just once, for me.   
But I understand that signs must be human,   
therefore call one man, anywhere on earth,   
not me—after all I have some decency—   
and allow me, when I look at him, to marvel at you.   


Berkely, 1961

Czeslaw Milosz, "Veni Creator" from Collected Poems, 1931-1987. Copyright © 1988 by Czeslaw Milosz Royalties, Inc. Used by permission of HarperCollins Publishers.

Source: Collected Poems 1931-1987 (HarperCollins Publishers Inc, 1988)

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Poet Czeslaw Milosz 1911–2004

POET’S REGION Poland

 Czeslaw  Milosz

Biography

Czeslaw Milosz ranks among the most respected figures in twentieth-century Polish literature, as well as one of the most respected contemporary poets in the world: he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1980. Born in Lithuania, where his parents moved temporarily to escape the political upheaval in their native Poland, as an adult, he left Poland due to the oppressive Communist regime that came to power following World . . .

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POET’S REGION Poland

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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