PN Review Print and Online Poetry Magazine
News and Notes
Digital Access to PN Review
Access the latest issues, plus back issues of PN Review with Exact Editions For PN Review subscribers: to access the PN Review digital archive via the Exact Editions app Exactly or the Exact Editions website, you will first need to know your PN Review ID number. read more
PN Review Prize winners announced
Carcanet Press and PN Review are delighted to announce the winners of the first ever PN Review Prize. read more
Most Read... Vahni CapildeoOn Judging Prizes, & Reading More than Six Really Good Books
(PN Review 237)
Drew MilneTom Raworth’s Writing
‘present past improved’: Tom Raworth’s Writing

(PN Review 236)
Alejandro Fernandez-OsorioPomace (trans. James Womack)
(PN Review 236)
Kei MillerIn the Shadow of Derek Walcott
1930–2017

(PN Review 235)
Eavan BolandA Lyric Voice at Bay
(PN Review 121)
Kate BinghamPuddle
(PN Review 236)
Poems Articles Interviews Reports Reviews Contributors
Gratis Ad 1
Gratis Ad 2
Next Issue CELEBRATING JOHN ASHBERY Contributors include Mark Ford, Marina Warner, Jeremy Over, Theophilus Kwek, Sam Riviere, Luke Kennard, Philip Terry,Agnes Lehoczky, Emily Critchley, Oli Hazard and others Miles Champion The Gold Standard Rebecca Watts The Cult of the Noble Amateur Marina Tsvetaeva ‘My desire has the features of a woman’: Two Letters translated by Christopher Whyte Iain Bamforth Black and White

This article is taken from PN Review 237, Volume 44 Number 1, September - October 2017.

‘In the Province of Demons’: On Czesław Miłosz David Herman
Andrzej Franaszek, Miłosz: A Biography (Harvard University Press), 544pp, £30

I MET CZESŁAW MIŁOSZ IN 1991 when Michael Ignatieff and I went to produce a programme about him for BBC Two. Miłosz was already eighty. His years in exile were nearly over. The Berlin Wall had fallen in 1989 and Miłosz had returned to Poland a hero. A few months before we filmed our interview with him, Lithuania had just emerged from the deep freeze of the Cold War. Miłosz had gone back to the country he had grown up in for the first time since 1939. In a later interview in Paris Review he said, ‘I was made an honorary citizen and attended a mass in the wooden church where I was baptized. But many villages have disappeared. I have to presume enormous numbers of their inhabitants were deported to Siberia […] I visited the place where I was born, but there was no house, only the bare remnants of a park, and the river is polluted.’

This brief passage is deceptive. Some of these images, which seem casual, do a lot of work. ‘The wooden church where I was baptized’, for example. Miłosz was a lifelong Catholic. ‘If I were asked to say where my poetry comes from,’ he once said, ‘I would say that its roots are in my childhood. In Christmas carols, in the liturgy of Marian and vesper offices, and in the Bible.’ One of his great Holocaust poems is called, ‘A Poor Christian Looks at the Ghetto’. He wasn’t just baptised, he was baptised ‘in a wooden church’, ...


Searching, please wait... animated waiting image