"An Eff of the Ineffable"
A Lovely Rainy Morning

Remembering Julia Child & Czeslaw Milosz

It was sad Friday to come down from the mountians and discover that Julia Child, the single person most responsible for the way Americans eat and cook was dead. It fit with my sentimentality for the house on Louisa. Back then I would watch PBS every Saturday as it shifted back and forth from cooking shows to home improvement shows. I would watch while cleaning house, doing laundry, ironing, etc. Sometimes I'd end up cooking for lunch or dinner something I saw on one of the shows. I loved the episodes of Julia Child with Jacques Pepin (maybe the episode on things to do with potatoes was my favourite). A significant amount of my joy in cooking comes from her. Goodbye.

Today I read in Time magazine that the greatest living poet died. Marty and I had the great privilege of seeing and hearing Milosz speak and read poems at OU while I was in grad school. Poetry is something that is very dependent upon its native language and culture. Only a very few poets excell on the world stage. The Polish poets seem to be good at this and Milosz is, now was, the best.

I don't have a favourite Milosz poem. I was looking this evening through his collected works, a huge tome I bought a few years ago and have yet not dared to begin reading from cover to cover. I decided to use this one "Lecture V" from "Six Lectures in Verse." I've known it for a number of years and have used it in various settings:

"Christ has risen." Whoever believes that
Should not behave as we do,
Who have lost the up, the down, the right, the left, heavens, abysses,
And try somehow to muddle on, in cars, in beds,
Men clutching at women, women clutching at men,
Falling, rising, putting coffee on the table,
Buttering bread, for here's another day.

And another year. Time to exchange presents.
Christmas trees aglow, music,
All of us, Presbyterians, Lutherans, Catholics,
Like to sit in the pew, sing with others,
Give thanks for being here together still,
For the gift of echoing the Word, now and in all ages.

We rejoice at having been spared the misfortune
Of countries where, as we read, the enslaved
Kneel before the idol of the State, live and die with its name
On their lips, not knowing they're enslaved.
However that may be, The Book is always with us,
And in it, miraculous signs, counsels, orders.
Unhygenic, it's true, and contrary to common sense,
But they exist and that's enough on the mute earth.
It's as if a fire warmed us in a cave
While outside the golden rain of stars is motionless.
Theologians are silent. And philosophers
Don't even dare ask: "What is truth?"
And so, after the great wars, undecided,
With almost good will but not quite,
We plod on with hope. And now let everyone
Confess to himself. "Has he risen?" "I don't know."

Comments

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marty

Ah. I hadn't heard.
This makes me want to go home before it starts raining so I can sit at the open window drinking wine and reading.
What a wonderful man he was. I'm so glad that we had the opportunity to see him before he passed.

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