Five miles away the hayricks and houses
are going up in fire;
beside the fields, peasants smoke their pipes
in silence and in fear.
Here, the lake still ripples at the little
on the water a ruffled flock of sheep
stoops to drink a cloud.
Cservenka, 6th Oct. 1944
— “Razglednica (2)” (Postcard 2), Miklós Radnóti, transl. Francis R. Jones
Beyond local, small-scale ecological witnessing, such as that of Borodale, Oswald, Longley, (discussed in “the poem as trace of an event 1“) some poets become directly caught up in larger historical events, these bloody trajectories of the 20th and 21st centuries, events which are then registered in their poetry in various ways — or sometimes deliberately resisted: Czesław Miłosz, on refusing permission to reprint some of his poems on the Warsaw Uprising: “I do not want to be known as a professional mourner.” (See his interview in The…
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