The clarity of early morning.


Not soon, as late as the approach of my ninetieth year,
I felt a door opening in me and I entered
the clarity of early morning.

One after another my former lives were departing,
like ships, together with their sorrow.

And the countries, cities, gardens, the bays of seas
assigned to my brush came closer,
ready now to be described better than they were before.

I was not separated from people,
grief and pity joined us.
We forget—I kept saying—that we are all children of the King.

For where we come from there is no division
into Yes and No, into is, was, and will be.

We were 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—
a 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 in us,
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 time,
whether they are aware of it or not.

-Czeslaw Milosz, 2004




4 thoughts on “The clarity of early morning.

  1. “One after another my former lives were departing,
    like ships, together with their sorrow.”

    A vivid image. Can they really leave?

    You introduced me to this writer. I like him.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I read this the morning you posted it, read it three times and again now. You probably can guess why, Gretchen. At first I read the poem with that feeling I sometimes get now at 2 a.m. up for a bathroom trip, a sense of sadness that the majority of my years lie in the past, not the future. At 2 a.m. I’ve learned it helps to think of the coming morning when I get up and let my dachshunds out to potty while looking out at the garden through my large window at the kitchen sink, the sight bringing to me the joy of a new day. Is that like the poet’s clarity of early morning? I don’t know but I’ve stopped at that phrase every time I’ve reread the poem because I choose that rather than the sadness of 2 a.m.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dewena, thank you for your thoughtful response. It seems to me that the clarity we hope to experience, in our minds in our later years, must include a little sadness. But yes! The joy of a new day is there, too. Thank God!


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