One More Contradiction, by CZESLAW MILOSZ

Did I fulfill what I had to, here, on earth?

I was a guest in a house under white clouds

Where rivers flow and grasses renew themselves.

So what if I were called, if I was hardly aware.

The next time early I would search for wisdom.

I would not pretend I could be just like the others:

Only evil and suffering come from that.

Renouncing, I would choose the fate of obedience.

I would suppress my wolf’s eye and greedy throat.

A resident of some cloister floating in the air

With a view on cities glowing below,

Or onto a stream, a bridge and old cedars,

I would give myself to one task only

Which then, however, could not be accomplished.

From “Facing the River: New Poems” by Czeslaw Milosz, translated by the author and Robert Hass. (Ecco Press: $13; 66 pp.) Copyright 1995 Reprinted by permission.