Monday, July 16, 2007

Halvard Johnson's Call for Poems on the War for BIG BRIDGE/Milosz's "Dedication"

Halvard Johnson put together a mini-anthology of poems on war for Big Bridge last year, and he's doing an encore for poems responding to Milosz (pictured left). See Hal's message below.

"For a second mini-anthology of poems, this time inspired by/responding to/related to
Czeslaw Milosz's poem "Dedication" and/or the various wars/insurgencies/etc. going
on in the world today, please send 1-6 poems to me at with the words "Big Bridge" followed by your own name clearly in the subject line. Please, when sending attachments, send all poems in a single attachment. This mini-anthology (approx. 30 poems) will appear in the January issue of Big Bridge, and I'll consider submissions of work received before the end of November."

Halvard Johnson,

"Dedication" by Czeslaw Milosz

You whom I could not save
Listen to me.
Try to understand this simple speech as I would be ashamed of another.
I swear, there is in me no wizardry of words.
I speak to you with silence like a cloud or a tree.

What strengthened me, for you was lethal.
You mixed up farewell to an epoch with the beginning of a new one,
Inspiration of hatred with lyrical beauty,
Blind force with accomplished shape.

Here is the valley of shallow Polish rivers. And an immense bridge
Going into white fog. Here is a broken city,
And the wind throws the screams of gulls on your grave
When I am talking with you.

What is poetry which does not save
Nations or people?
A connivance with official lies,
A song of drunkards whose throats will be cut in a moment,
Readings for sophomore girls.
That I wanted good poetry without knowing it,
That I discovered, late, its salutary aim,
In this and only this I find salvation.

They used to pour millet on graves or poppy seeds
To feed the dead who would come disguised as birds.
I put this book here for you, who once lived
So that you should visit us no more.

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