Staying power: a poet’s place in God’s agenda – National Catholic Reporter

Posted: August 10, 2017 at 5:55 am

Milosz's poems suggest that he leaned towards Lithuania's mix of magic, pantheism and Christian mysticism. He was especially close to his maternal grandmother,Jozefa, who spent hours in prayer. Milosz later learned that her piety was blended with superstition.

Writing his first poem at 13, he published approximately 25 books, ending withAbout Journeys Through Time, a book of essays. Three other books were issued posthumously, includingNew and Collected Poems: 1931-2001, which was reprinted in April 2017.

Milosz was highly regarded for his many prose works, such as his autobiographical novel,TheIssaValley, his spiritual biography,The Land ofUlro, his reflections on literature,The Witness of Poetry, and his collection of essays refuting totalitarianism, The Captive Mind, which, he said, originated in a prayer.

Milosz wrote prose and poems about the devastation he experienced during invasions by Czarist and Soviet Russia as well as by Poland and Germany. He lived through both world wars, and afterward, his homeland was carved up and given over to the Soviets. Then, in the1990s, he witnessed the rise of the Solidarity Movement and the fall of the Soviet Union.

Through it all, he was sustained by his wife, brother, friends and faith. AsFranaszekquotes from one of Milosz's essays: "Had it not been for the Catholic faith and [being] able to pray in adulthood, I would have perished. I believed that I have a place in God's agenda, and I asked for the ability to fulfill the tasks awaiting me."

Milosz was friends with luminaries like Thomas Merton and Pope John Paul II, the latter of whom corresponded with him. Another friend, Lech Walesa, said that Milosz's poems inspired the Solidarity Movement. Ultimately, Milosz won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1980 for clearly expressing "man's exposed condition in a world of severe conflicts."

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Staying power: a poet's place in God's agenda - National Catholic Reporter

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