Poems by Czesław Miłosz in Ten Languages
Czesław, Anthony and Grażyna Strumiłło-Miłosz, photograph from the Miłosz family archive
There are many languages but only one Miłosz. Miłosz in English, Japanese, Chinese, Russian... In a series of audiobooks released by Poland's Adam Mickiewicz Institute, poems of the Polish Nobel prize winner are read by well known actors: Stephen Fry, Toru Wakanabe, Michael Lonsdale, Serhiy Zhadan and others.
For the English audiobook poems were selected by Adam Zagajewski and interpreted by Stephen Fry. Here the comedian, actor, writer, presenter, and activist reads You Who Wronged.
You who wronged a simple man
Do not feel safe. The poet remembers.
You can kill one - but another is born.
The words are written down, the deed, the date.
And you’d have done better with a winter dawn,
A rope, and a branch bowed beneath your weight.
Some of Czesław Miłosz poems are written in the haiku convention. The Japanese audiobook is read by Toru Wakanabe. This poem is called Reading the Japanese Poet Issa (1762-1826).
Belgian poet Benno Barnard reads Onaangepast which begins with the words "I was not meant to live anywhere except in Paradise"...
Miłosz in French is read by the French-British actor Michael Lonsdale known for his role as the abbot in The Name of the Rose. The French audiobook of Miłosz's poetry was distributed in 2012 with the Magazine Littéraire.
Translated into Spanish by Xavier Farré and recorded by actors José Luis Gómez and Aitana Sánchez Gijón. Here José Luis Gómez reads the poem This.
Among the poems found on the German audiobook is A Poor Christian Looks at the Ghetto translated by Karl Dedecius. In Poland it's one of the best known works of the poet. The thirteen poems are read by Barbara Nüsse.
Five of the poems in Chinese were translated by Professor Yi Lijun. Among them is So Little which exhibits far-eastern simplicity.
I said so little.
Days were short.
The Ukrainian audiobook was read by writers Serhiy Zhadan and Taras Prohaśka to the avantgarde music of Nostri Temporis. This is Serhiy Zhadan reading one of Miłosz's most important poems Rue Descartes:
Reading Miłosz in Belarusian is Andrei Khadanovich, simultaneously translator of the poems. The poem are recited to music by Racyjanalnaja dyjeta.
In Russian theatre and film actor Sergei Yursky reads poems such as Native Realm. He says of Miłosz, "I tried to reconcile two ways of thinking: the narrow path leading into one's restless soul and the wide inspection of the world, its history and tragic contemporaneity."
The audiobooks with translated poetry were recorded in 2011. The project was set up by the Adam Mickiewicz Institute as part of the Cultural Programme of the Polish Presidency of the EU and the Miłosz Year. In 2011 the audiobooks were distributed in European capitals with newspapers and magazines. El Pais, Magazine Littéraire, the Ukrainian Tyżdeń, the Russian Inostrannaja Literatura. The audiobooks are now available for free on culture.pl
Author: Mikolaj Glinski, translator MJ 14/08/2014