America When Will You Be Angelic?

Cynthia Haven in Church Life Journal:

Czesław Miłosz, one of the greatest poets and thinkers of the past hundred years, is not generally considered a Californian. But the Polish-Lithuanian Nobel laureate spent four decades in Berkeley—more time than any other single place he lived. His debut collection in America, a short Selected Poems in 1973, was published by a small New York house, Seabury Press. Introduced by Kenneth Rexroth, the collection of about fifty poems included many from Ocalenie, the book that had appeared in Warsaw in 1945.

The translation of the Ocalenie poems in English brought the wartime Polish poet who had been facing an unknown future into the present, and into English, nearly thirty years later when he was a Berkeley professor. In that light, some of the translation choices are revealing: we can see the American poet gently burnishing the man he once was into the man he had become, and the subtle shifts give the translated poems a less elevated, more American idiom.

More here.