And Yet the Books by Czeslaw Milosz
And Yet The Books
And yet the books will be there on the shelves, separate beings,
That appeared once, still wet
As shining chestnuts under a tree in autumn,
And, touched, coddled, began to live
In spite of fires on the horizon, castles blown up,
Tribes on the march, planets in motion.
“We are, ” they said, even as their pages
Were being torn out, or a buzzing flame
Licked away their letters. So much more durable
Than we are, whose frail warmth
Cools down with memory, disperses, perishes.
I imagine the earth when I am no more:
Nothing happens, no loss, it’s still a strange pageant,
Women’s dresses, dewy lilacs, a song in the valley.
Yet the books will be there on the shelves, well born,
Derived from people, but also from radiance, heights.
Czeslaw Milosz was born on June 30, 1911, in Szetejnie, Lithuania (then under the domination of the Russian tsarist government). He spent most of World War II in Nazi-occupied Warsaw working for underground presses. In 1980, Milosz was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. He died in August of 2004.