You Who Wronged

By Czeslaw Milosz 1911–2004 Czeslaw Milosz

Translated By Richard Lourie

You who wronged a simple man
Bursting into laughter at the crime,
And kept a pack of fools around you
To mix good and evil, to blur the line,

Though everyone bowed down before you,
Saying virtue and wisdom lit your way,
Striking gold medals in your honor,
Glad to have survived another day,

Do not feel safe. The poet remembers.
You can kill one, but another is born.
The words are written down, the deed, the date.

And you’d have done better with a winter dawn,
A rope, and a branch bowed beneath your weight.


Washington, D.C., 1950

Czeslaw Milosz, "You Who Wronged" from The Collected Poems: 1931-1987. Copyright © 1988 by Czeslaw Milosz Royalties, Inc. Used by permission of HarperCollins Publishers.

Source: The Collected Poems: 1931-1987 (The Ecco Press, 1988)

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Poet Czeslaw Milosz 1911–2004

POET’S REGION Poland

Subjects Arts & Sciences, History & Politics, Social Commentaries, Poetry & Poets

Poetic Terms Rhymed Stanza

 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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SUBJECT Arts & Sciences, History & Politics, Social Commentaries, Poetry & Poets

POET’S REGION Poland

Poetic Terms Rhymed Stanza

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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