Veni Creator

by maggi dawn

This poem by Czeslaw Milosz (and translated into English by Milosz and Robert Pinsky) has been my Pentecost meditation. ( “I tire easily, building the stairway of abstraction”. I love that line: 10 layers of meaning right there. ) 


Come, Holy Spirit,

bending or not bending the grasses,

appearing or not above our heads in a tongue of flame,

at hay harvest or when they plough in the orchards or when snow

covers crippled firs in the Sierra Nevada.

I am only a man: I need visible signs.

I tire easily, building the stairway of abstraction.

Many a time I asked, you know it well, that the statue in church

lifts its hand, only once, just once, for me.

But I understand that signs must be human,

therefore call one man, anywhere on earth,

not me—after all I have some decency—

and allow me, when I look at him, to marvel at you.


Berkeley, 1961


From Collected Poems 1931-1987 (Harper Collins Publishers Inc, 1988)