April 2nd, 2017
(written by lawrence krubner, however indented passages are often quotes). You can contact lawrence at: email@example.com
The only homeland. This strikes me as the only way forward for Europe, and perhaps the world, though I realize there are some groups, such as African-Americans in the USA, who might strongly disagree, as they use the language of the oppressors. But maybe if we can interpret the words broadly enough, then the idea fits everyone? Beyoncé recently sang:
My daddy Alabama, momma Louisiana
You mix that negro with that Creole, make a Texas bama
So where is her homeland? What is her homeland, other than the songs that she sings?
Miłosz was raised Catholic in rural Lithuania and emphasized his identity with the multi-ethnic Grand Duchy of Lithuania, a stance that led to ongoing controversies. He refused to categorically identify himself as either a Pole or a Lithuanian. He said of himself: “I am a Lithuanian to whom it was not given to be a Lithuanian”, and “My family in the sixteenth century already spoke Polish, just as many families in Finland spoke Swedish and in Ireland English, so I am a Polish not a Lithuanian poet. But the landscapes and perhaps the spirits of Lithuania have never abandoned me”. Miłosz memorialised his Lithuanian childhood in a 1955 novel The Issa Valley and in the 1959 memoir Native Realm. He employed a Lithuanian-language tutor late in life to improve the skills acquired in his childhood. His explanation was that it might be the language spoken in heaven. He often is quoted as having said, “Language is the only homeland.”
In his youth, Miłosz came to adopt, as he put it, a “scientific, atheistic position mostly”, although he was later to return to the Catholic faith. After graduation from Sigismund Augustus Gymnasium in Vilnius, he studied law at Stefan Batory University. In 1931 he traveled to Paris, where he was influenced by his distant cousin Oscar Milosz, a French poet of Lithuanian descent and a Swedenborgian. In 1931, he formed the poetic group Żagary with the young poets Jerzy Zagórski, Teodor Bujnicki, Aleksander Rymkiewicz, Jerzy Putrament and Józef Maśliński. Miłosz’s first volume of poetry was published in 1934. After receiving his law degree that year, he again spent a year in Paris on a fellowship. Upon returning, he worked as a commentator at Radio Wilno, but was dismissed, an action described as stemming from either his leftist views or for views overly sympathetic to Lithuania. Miłosz wrote all his poetry, fiction and essays in Polish and translated the Old Testament Psalms into Polish.