Saturday Poem – And Yet The Books

This poem is stunning, celebrating the immortality of the written word.  The poet grew up in Nazi-occupied Poland and then suffered further during the Communist regime and yet he has seen his words endure.  No matter how people try, yet the books will remain.  The words are more than marks on the page, they are living and breathing and cannot be defeated.

And Yet The Books

And yet the books will be there on the shelves, separate beings,
That appeared once, still wet
As shining chestnuts under a tree in autumn,
And, touched, coddled, began to live
In spite of fires on the horizon, castles blown up,
Tribes on the march, planets in motion.
“We are, ” they said, even as their pages
Were being torn out, or a buzzing flame
Licked away their letters. So much more durable
Than we are, whose frail warmth
Cools down with memory, disperses, perishes.
I imagine the earth when I am no more:
Nothing happens, no loss, it’s still a strange pageant,
Women’s dresses, dewy lilacs, a song in the valley.
Yet the books will be there on the shelves, well born,
Derived from people, but also from radiance, heights.

Czesław Miłosz

For past Saturday Poems, take a look at the archive in Poetry Please.

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