In Memoriam
14th August, 2004
Nobel Laureate Czeslaw Milosz (1911 - 2004) A Lithuanian poet who wrote in Polish
Czeslaw Milosz
Czeslaw Milosz (Česlovas Milošas) was born in Šateiniai, on the banks of the Nevėžis, in Lithuania in 1911 and died on August 14, 2004 in Cracow, Poland. He studied at the University of Vilnius and was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1980. Before the fall of communism his writings became a voice of the opposition to totalitarianism.
He served with the Polish diplomatic service 1945 - 50, defected to France in 1951 and moved to the USA in 1960, teaching at the University of California in Berkeley.
After the collapse of communism in Poland, Milosz settled in Cracow in 1989. On returning to his native Lithuania in 1992, after an absence of more than 50 years, he received an honorary doctorate from Vytautas Magnus University and was made an honorary citizen of Lithuania. This was followed by an honorary citizenship of the city of Vilnius in 2001.
Milosz always described himself as a Lithuanian, who wrote in Polish. During his last visit to Vilnius in 2000 Milosz declared: "I was born in the very middle of Lithuania and have more right to write "Lithuania, my Fatherland", than my great hero Adam Mickiewicz" (That phrase was immortalised in the 19th century classic epic poem "Pan Tadeusz" by Adam Mickiewicz, who was another great Lithuanian writer writing in Polish). Milosz's writings are permeated with Lithuanian themes. He said: "Only in Šateiniai was I the happiest. Thereafter was expulsion from Eden".

Sources: "Lietuvos Rytas" 16/8/04, Lithuanian Radio 16/8/04 reported in, "Sydney Morning Herald" 17/8/04 Photo: Courtesy ELTA