Celebrating National Poetry Month

Over the years some five hundred poems have appeared in the pages of The New York Review. A great range of poets, preoccupied with themes both personal and political, often translated from different languages—W.H. Auden, Seamus Heaney, Zbigniew Herbert, John Berryman, Theodore Roethke, Wisława Szymborska, John Ashbery, and Czeslaw Miłosz, to name a handful—have contributed to the Review.

This April, to celebrate National Poetry Month, the Review's editors have chosen thirty poems from the archives and will post one each day. Please bookmark this page and visit us throughout the month for new poems. You can also follow @nybooks on Twitter or visit our Facebook page for a link to the day’s poem. For more poetry and reviews from our archives, you may be interested in the online edition, which provides full access to five decades of writing in the Review.

An Honest Description of Myself with a Glass of Whiskey at An Airport, Let Us Say, in Minneapolis

Czesław Miłosz

My ears catch less and less of conversations, and my eyes have weakened, though they are still insatiable.

I see their legs in miniskirts, slacks, wavy fabrics.

Peep at each one separately, at their buttocks and thighs, lulled by the imaginings of porn.

Old lecher, it’s time for you to the grave, not to the games and amusements of youth.

But I do what I have always done: compose scenes of this earth under orders from the erotic imagination.

It’s not that I desire these creatures precisely; I desire everything, and they are like a sign of ecstatic union.

It’s not my fault that we are made so, half from disinterested contemplation, half from appetite.

If I should accede one day to Heaven, it must be there as it is here, except that I will be rid of my dull senses and my heavy bones.

Changed into pure seeing, I will absorb, as before, the proportions of human bodies, the color of irises, a Paris street in June at dawn, all of it incomprehensible, incomprehensible the multitude of visible things.

(translated from the Polish by Robert Hass and Czeslaw Milosz)

Previous poems