Sunday, September 30, 2007

"A Confession"

This is a poem written by a Polish poet whose name is Czeslaw Milosz (1911-2004). I first read this poem Spring semester of 1997 in my Senior Seminar in the St. Ignatius Institute at the University of San Francisco. This poem had such an impact on me that it inspired me to write my senior thesis around it. The title of my thesis was -- The Flawed and Aware Prophetic Witness: A Condition of Human Existence. Along with another student, I won the Senior Thesis award that year in the St. Ignatius Institute. 

I remember Dr. Erasmo Leiva gave us this poem the week before at the end of class and at the next class he asked who would like to read it. My hand went up like it was shot out of cannon. Dr. Leiva said to me, "Tom, how did I know that you would be the one that would like this poem?" I guess he knew me pretty darn well. I hope you enjoy.

"A Confession" (1985)

My Lord, I loved strawberry jam
And the dark sweetness of a woman's body.
Also well-chilled vodka, herring in olive oil,
Scents, of cinnamon, of cloves.
So what kind of prophet am I? Why should the spirit
Have visited such a man? Many others
Were justly called, and trustworthy.
Who would have trusted me? For they saw
How I empty glasses, throw myself on food,
And glance greedily at the waitress's neck.
Flawed and aware of it. Desiring greatness,
Able to recognise greatness wherever it is,
And yet not quite, only in part, clairvoyant,
I knew what was left for smaller men like me:
A feast of brief hopes, a rally of the proud,
A tournament of hunchbacks, literature.