Spring 2001 • Vol. XXIII No. 2 Cultures of Creativity: The Centennial Celebration of the Nobel PrizesApril 1, 2001 |

To Robert Lowell

From the Polish.    I had no right to talk of you that way, Robert. An émigré's envy Must have prompted me to mock Your long depressions, weeks of terror, Presumed vacations in the safety of the wards. It was not from pride in my normalcy. Insanity, I knew, was insinuating itself In a thin thread into my very being And only waited for my permission To carry me into its murky regions. And I was watchful. Like a lame man, I used to walk upright to hide my affliction. You didn't have to. For you it was permitted. Not for me, a refugee on this continent Where so many newcomers vanished without a trace. Forgive me my mistake. Your will was of no use Against an illness that held you like a stigma. Beneath my anger was the vanity, Unjustifiable, of the humiliated. Belatedly I write to you across what separates us: Gestures, conventions, idioms, illusions.

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Czesław Miłosz (1911–2004) was a celebrated poet, novelist, essayist, and translator. He won the 1980 Nobel Prize for Literature.
Robert Hass is the author of Summer Snow: New Poems, forthcoming from Ecco Press. He teaches English at the University of California at Berkeley.
Czesław Miłosz (1911–2004) was a celebrated poet, novelist, essayist, and translator. He won the 1980 Nobel Prize for Literature.

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