Czesław Miłosz Stairs Unveiled in Kraków


2019 10 04


During his visit in Kraków, Minister of Culture Mindaugas Kvietkauskas attended the festive ceremony of the opening of stairs named after the poet, Nobel Prize Winner Czesław Miłosz and a conference entitled Czesław Miłosz and the 21st Century.
The stairs were unveiled on the occasion of the poet’s 15th death anniversary. Kraków, where Miłosz died, became the second place after Vilnius, which is the city of his youth, where another large commemorative object has been built for this Nobel Prize Winner. The idea for the stairs was put forward by the Cultural Attaché of the Republic of Lithuania in Poland, Rasa Rimickaitė. This suggestion received support from the poet’s son Anthony Milosz. Verses from the poet’s poem “The Gift” were carved on the stairs, which are in front of a former royal residency, the Wawel Royal Castle. This poem, according to the scientists of the Jagiellonian University in Kraków who selected it, is a prime representation of Miłosz’s sensitivity and authentic world-view.
“This is a happy day indeed. For the city, for the culture, for the relations between Poland and Lithuania. A happy day for the city, because I think and believe that verses of poetry strengthen its spirit. Czesław Miłosz always emphasised that poetry has a connection to reality and can build it. I think his words will build both the reality of Kraków and the reality we share”, the Minister of Culture said, quoting the first line of Miłosz’s poem to the attendees of the ceremony. He noted a symbolic connection between the quotations from the poems “The River” and “The Gift” carved on the stairs in Vilnius and Kraków: “On the Czesław Miłosz stairs in Vilnius, we can read: “And it neither is nor was, just an everlasting moment”. The poem carved on these stairs starts with a happy day. Thus, may these happy days lead us to the great everlasting moments. I thank and congratulate the city of Kraków with this moment, this everlasting moment”.
At the opening of the scientific conference Czesław Miłosz and the 21st Century in the Jagiellonian University of Kraków, the minister of culture emphasised that Miłosz can be considered to be the most important thread which unites the Lithuanian and Polish cultures, reveals new layers of intercultural cooperation, and brings the two countries closer together. Kvietkauskas also expressed delight about the establishment of the Czesław Miłosz Research Centre.
The Minister Kvietkauskas read a presentation at the conference which offered up a new and pertinent perspective on Miłosz’s novel The Seizure of Power. “It highlights many details that complicate a streamlined historical narrative. Actually, this novel is an entire layer of details of life that cannot be arranged according to a single scheme. According to the author himself, the novel is the most valuable thanks to this layer. However, in my view, the key message of this novel is the relationship with the ruthless power of history, which destroys people’s lives and falsifies their experiences by leaving silent traumas in its wake”, the minister of culture said.
While in Kraków, Kvietkauskas also met with the city’s mayor, Prof. Jacek Majchrowski, with whom he discussed cultural cooperation between cultural institutions of Kraków and our country.