Answering Milosz

Czeslaw Milosz (1911 – 2004) is an astoundingly insightful poet, elegant in his simplicity. As a writer, I aspire to reach the depths of humanity as he did. His poetry survives translation from its native Polish to English, and still rivals any native English speaker’s work.

That said, Milosz presents a literary paradox in his poem, “If There Is No God.”

IF THERE IS NO GOD
If there is no God,
Not everything is permitted to man.
He is still his brother’s keeper
And he is not permitted to sadden his brother,
By saying there is no God.

In the case of these five lines, I cannot agree with this poet I so admire. I have composed a response, because I feel this poem needs one. I humbly submit it here, not because I think I can better the poetic form or the poem itself. I am not a poet by trade; I deal mainly in prose. But I think my own quintet encapsulates my personal feelings on the matter:

IF THERE IS NO GOD
If there is no God,
Man must create his own permit.
He is then the keeper and servant of all society
And he is not permitted to let chaos reign,
By saying there is a God.

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