Milosz, Dlugosz and Eliasz … Shhh

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

Czeslaw Milosz (June 30, 1911 – August 14, 2004), the Nobel Prize author,  should have the 100th Anniversary of his birth commemorated, June, next year. I do not know why I took a fancy to this person who took my mind captive. It is probably because he was Polish (and a naturalized American) and his first name was the same as my ojciec (father). That got me to read this man’s works. But what kept me reading his works is his Captivating Mind and his way around the rhythm of language (quite extraordinary to be so  talented in two languages).  So I was reading a book of his, “The History of Polish Literature“; London-New York: MacMillan, 1969. When I read, I am rather immersive, so I read the text and Google the concepts or the author. It provides a richer experience for me. So I noticed that Milosz (or the concept that was Milosz) is about to turn 100!

This jester has many of this writer’s books in his personal library. I chose the Road Side Dog for a picture, because I am a long time dog  aficionado and I have made a reservation, “to let” some of Milosz’s ideas for my own writings. So from my readings today in The History of Polish Literature“, here are a few memes and things for you think upon:

  • Marcholt – The Polish Aesop, particularly the connection to the Wise King Solomon
  • Sowizrzal
  • Melusine
  • Jan Dlugosz ( 1415-1480)

In the above list, the first three are literary characters, while the fourth is a historical figure and writer. His historical writings are  a rich source. See Annales Poloniae.  Jan Dlugosz endeared himself to me by teaching himself Cyrillic in order to be to source info from the Letopisi. So this jester identifies with Dlugosz and his need to read Cyrillic texts to have ready access to Russian information.

Alas, in the partitions of Poland by the three black-eagled Empires,  my ancestors were  mostly in the Russian-Poland partition, so reading Cyrillic handwriting and Russian language (pre 1918 language reforms) became a necessary skill. I think I dislike the Russification of the ELIASZ name into Elijasz. I still remember my Busia teaching me that our last name was in the Old Testament and that we were named for the prophet Elijah. In Polish, it appeared as ELIASZ.  So when I got further into the genealogical research and I saw post-partition Catholic priests change the name into Heliasz and Elijasz, I saw something of a diminishing of respect for its biblical roots. But whether we are ELIASZ or HELIASZ or ELIJASZ or even ELJASZ or ELYASZ. I still see Elijah. In fact, amongst the Slavic peoples, other variations exist: Iliasz, Oliasz, and Uliasz. So now you know, that this jester’s family with the short name (6 characters) of which uncharacteristically,  half of them are vowels is very much Polish with  a very uncommon Polish name.

 

A Reasonably Complete Bibliography of Czeslaw Milosz can be found in the New World Encyclopedia  article.

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