Gift, by Czeslaw Milosz

A day so happy.
Fog lifted early. I worked in the garden.
Hummingbirds were stopping over honeysuckle flowers.
There was no thing on earth I wanted to possess.
I knew no one worth my envying him.
Whatever evil I had suffered, I forgot.
To think that once I was the same man did not embarrass me.
In my body I felt no pain.
When straightening up, I saw the blue sea and sails.

Berkeley, 1971

Poetry is everywhere. The other day I was talking to a poet friend, George Staehle, about an acceptance he’d gotten recently for a poem he’d sent out years earlier. The thing is, the journal had published his poem — two years earlier — but they’d forgotten to tell him about it. They sent him a copy of the journal (from a college in Maine) and a very nice note of apology. I looked through the table of contents and noticed that another poet I know, Marie Gauthier, had a poem in that journal. How serendipitous it all is! I love it that they forgot to tell the poet about his poem being out in the world and that he thought it was amusing.

Poets are like that.


4 thoughts on “Gift

  1. It could be the effects of sleep deprivation, but Lily, I’m having some difficulty figuring out what journal this is…Could you email me?? Kinda silly, but it’s bugging me…

  2. Bloglily,

    How funny that you would post this poem! Earlier this week I went down to hear Charles Baxter speak and he referenced this poem as part of his talk about happiness, specifically the difficulty in sustaining a character’s happiness through an extended narrative. He said that this poem, while it is about the speaker’s happiness, only comes about through negation—what he has but also what he doesn’t have, what’s there, but also what’s not there.

    Thanks for another wonderful post!

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