After a sojourn in America, Milosz finally gains a sense of home, back in old Europe:
But it was not the same as it had been in America; it was not only nature that cured me. Europe herself gathered me in her warm embrace, and her stones, chiseled by the hands of past generations, the swarm of her faces emerging from carved wood, from paintings, from the gilt of embroidered fabrics, soothed me, and my voice was added to her old challenges and oaths in spite of my refusal to accept her split and her sickliness. Europe, after all, was home to me. And in her I happened to find help; the country of the Dordogne is like a Platonic recollection, a prenatal landscape so hospitable that prehistoric man, twenty or thirty thousand years ago, selected the valley of the Vezere for his abode (was he, too, moved by a Platonic recollection of Paradise?). And while I climbed the hills of Saint-Emilion near a place where only yesterday the villas of Roman officials had stood, I tried to imagine, gazing out over the brown furrows of earth in the vineyards, all the hands that had once toiled here. Something went on inside me then. Such transformations are, of course, slow, and at first they are hidden even, from ourselves. Gradually, though, I stopped worrying about the whole mythology of exile, this side of the wall or that side of the wall. Poland and the Dordogne, Lithuania and Savoy, the narrow little streets in Wilno and the Quartier Latin, all fused together. I was like an ancient Greek. I had simply moved from one city to another. My native Europe, all of it, dwelled inside me, with its mountains, forests, and capitals; and that map of the heart left no room for my troubles. After a few years of groping in the dark, my foot once again touched solid ground and I regained the ability to live in the present, in a “now” within which past and future, both stronger than all possible apocalypses, mingle and mutually enrich each other.
Originally posted Wednesday, July 10th, 2013