Selected Poems: 1931-2004


Does it make sense to “review” great poetry? The following is from Milosz’s Campo dei Fiori:


“In Rome, on Campo dei Fiori,

baskets of olives and lemons

cobbles spattered with wine

and the wreckage of flowers.

Vendors cover the trestles

with rose-pink fish;

armfuls of dark grapes

heaped on peach-down.


On this same square

they burned Giordano Bruno.

Henchmen kindled the pyre

close-pressed by the mob.

Before the flames had died

the taverns were full again,

baskets of olives and lemons

again on the vendors' shoulders.


I thought of Campo dei Fiori

in Warsaw by the sky-carrousel

one clear spring evening

to the strains of a carnival tune.

The bright melody drowned

the salvos from the ghetto wall,

and couples were flying

high in the blue sky.



Someone will read as moral

that the people of Rome and Warsaw

haggle, laugh, make love

as they pass by martyrs' pyres.

Someone else will read

of the passing of things human,

of the oblivion

born before the flames have died.


But that day I thought only

of the loneliness of the dying,

of how, when Giordano

climbed to his burning

he could not find

in any human tongue

words for mankind,

mankind who live on.


Already they were back at their wine

or peddled their white starfish,

baskets of olives and lemons

they had shouldered to the fair,

and he already distanced

as if centuries had passed

while they paused just a moment

for his flying in the fire.


Those dying here, the lonely

forgotten by the worId,

our tongue becomes for them

the language of an ancient planet.

Until, when all is legend

and many years have passed,

on a new Campo dei Fiori

rage will kindle at a poet's word.”


Translated by

Louis Irribarne and David Brooks


love this.

love this.


Beautiful and powerful

Beautiful and powerful stuff. I'd like to know more about why ericloner chose this for inclusion in the Empathy Library.


Milosz is a genious and his

Milosz is a genious and his work exudes pure beauty.

Not convinced that this is an explicit example of empathy related work. 

Any further thoughts on the empathy connections?



Some further thoughts in reply to Alex W:

Milosz's poetry is beautiful. It is succinct and moving. But above all I think it is essential, in the sense that it is not particular to time and place. In this instance we reflect on "the loneliness of the dying". We also empathise with the brave, who are quickly forgotten, as everyday life resumes. Reflecting on principled sacrifice, and on the ease with which such sacrifice is forgotten,  engenders anger. Poets can move us to act.

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Czeslaw Milosz
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