Site icon Read A Little Poetry

Account by Czeslaw Milosz

Header PostFeaturedImage 09

I am at the lowest point of my life. Sunday was supposed to be for rest, for taking a deep breath, for snuggling under the covers and sleeping in and ignoring the harsh world outside. I didn’t do all of this, because I had work to do. In fact that’s all I do: work and work and work and work and work. Damn work. Fucking work. I’ve been running on about twenty hours of sleep spread out within the past few days. I knew that I had to break some time but I didn’t know it would happen last night.

It’s just that everything is going wrong lately. No matter what I do. Everything is going wrong. I am thrown out into the ocean, so far from the shore, and I don’t know how to swim and I am drowning. I keep on kicking and trying and flailing my arms, but I am not able to save myself.

Nobody there is to save me. The cold is wrapping itself around my body and my mind tries so very hard to fight back but everything is against me. For a moment I saw the beauty of it, this thing that could kill me, and suddenly I wanted so badly to meet it, to embrace it, to go away with it and never return. But even that is too good. So I am jolted back to violence, to things spiraling out of control, to a series of unfortunate events that I have no power over. And I just can’t do it anymore.

So at about ten in the evening, I’ve probably had the most horrible breakdown of my life. I cried so hard. In fact, I haven’t stopped. I am still crying now. It’s been more than three hours. The tears just won’t stop. I don’t even know what I am crying about anymore. I rarely cry, and now everything is coming out of me like flood. Do I still own this body?

I threw things. I’ve never done that before. I threw a lot of things. Everywhere is a mess. All I want to do now is crawl under the table, curl up and sleep and never wake up again. I have been thinking about this for the last hour. I think it would feel terribly good to just lie down and turn my body inwards and hide inside myself. I would do this forever.

I am terrified. Why is this happening to me? Why is everything happening to me? All I want is for things to go as they should, for machines to work, for plans to follow through, for people to be reliable, and for my life to go exactly as I have planned. I am doing everything I am supposed to do. Very rarely do I get to do what I want. Most of the time I do what I have to. And I’m okay with that. Why can’t the universe spare a little kindness? In fact, what is the point of everything? Why am I here? What am I supposed to do with this one wild and precious life? Why am I given anything at all if I can’t have it for always? Why do I dream? Why do we keep fooling ourselves?

Wasn’t it Barthes who said that we must face our delirium in order to understand it? Well I am. I am writing down my demons now. But I am never really free, am I. Even words fail.

Czeslaw Milosz

The history of my stupidity would fill many volumes.

Some would be devoted to acting against consciousness,
Like the flight of a moth which, had it known,
Would have tended nevertheless toward the candle’s flame.

Others would deal with ways to silence anxiety,
The little whisper which, though it is a warning, is ignored.

I would deal separately with satisfaction and pride,
The time when I was among their adherents
Who strut victoriously, unsuspecting.

But all of them would have one subject, desire,
If only my own—but no, not at all; alas,
I was driven because I wanted to be like others.
I was afraid of what was wild and indecent in me.

The history of my stupidity will not be written.
For one thing, it’s late. And the truth is laborious.

This is from The Collected Poems of Czeslaw Milosz, published by Ecco Press, 1988.

Exit mobile version