Sunday, February 12, 2012

yet i believe you , messengers

“Do not depend on the hope of results. You may have to face the fact that your work will be apparently worthless and even achieve no result at all, if not perhaps results opposite to what you expect. As you get used to this idea, you start more and more to concentrate not on the results, but on the value, the rightness, the truth of the work itself. You gradually struggle less and less for an idea and more and more for specific people. In the end, it is the reality of personal relationship that saves everything.” 

~ Thomas Merton

Oh yes, I have long reconciled myself to the fact that my work will be worthless.  One does learn to concentrate on the work rather than the result.  The making, the doing, the rightness of the work. On doing what you can.  Which brings me to this poem by Czeslaw Milosz, winner of the 1980 Nobel Prize for Literature, from The Collected Poems.


~ Czeslaw Milosz

All was taken away from you: white dresses,
wings, even existence.
Yet I believe you,

There, where the world is turned inside out,
a heavy fabric embroidered with stars and beasts,
you stroll, inspecting the trustworthy seams.

Short is your stay here:
now and then at a matinal hour, if the sky is clear,
in a melody repeated by a bird,
or in the smell of apples at the close of day
when the light makes the orchards magic.

They say somebody has invented you
but to me this does not sound convincing
for humans invented themselves as well.

The voice - no doubt it is a valid proof,
as it can belong only to radiant creatures,
weightless and winged (after all, why not?),
girdled with the lightning.

I have heard that voice many a time when asleep
and, what is strange, I understood more or less
an order or an appeal in an unearthly tongue:

day draws near
another one
do what you can.

       Berkeley, 1969


  1. Beautiful post. Merton is one of my favorite mystics.

  2. Merton's words to live by, Milosz's words to lay awake.


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