Sunday, December 03, 2006

Reading. Milosz.

I came across Road-side Dog during one of my late-night internet book-buying binges. (On the cover is a dog criss-crossed with the roads and villages of Milosz's life, or so it seems). I have been reading Milosz for some months now, and I cannot get enough. So. Here I am again. Flashing through brief thoughts put to paper by this poet, memories, ideas, feelings about everything and anything that crosses his mind. Each written so beautifully and clearly that his prose is poetry rearranged on the page. (In P. D. James novels, people are always telling Dalgliesh that at least his poetry is not merely prose rearranged on the page; Milosz is the reverse).

I went on a journey in order to acquaint myself with my province...and always we were barked at by a dog, assiduous in his duty. That was the beginning of the century; this is its night - I don't know where it came from - in a pre-dawn sleep, that funny and tender phrase composed itself: a road-side dog.

In the later years there is a sense of this man, this poet, whose words I fell completely and swiftly and quietly in love with, looking back across a great expanse of time. (It is felt even more strongly in an even more recent work, Second Space, which I have spoken of not too long ago). He returns again and again, in this collection of brief thoughts, to his thoughts on the poetry that occupied him for some seventy years, for which he was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature in 1980, the year of my birth. (I don't know why that last part seemed important to me). Poetry and age, old age, twin themes that wind themselves like intersecting and intertwining rivers of his life. Like the roads he drove along while a dog barked from behind the gate...

to be continued...

Milosz, Czeslaw. Road-side Dog. Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, 1999. p 3.

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