I am a Lithuanian poet, writing in French— Oscar Milosz
Oscar Milosz was born in Čareja, Minsk Governorate, Russian Empire, and spent his childhood in Čareja. He was baptized on July 2, 1886, at St. Alexander's Church in Warsaw. His father, Vladislas de Lubicz Milosz, was a former officer in the Russian army and his mother, Marie Rosalie Rosenthal, was a Polish Jew from Warsaw. His parents did not marry until Oscar Milosz was 17. In 1889, Milosz's parents placed him at the Lycée Janson de Sailly in Paris. He began writing poems in 1894 and started to frequent artistic circles, meeting Oscar Wilde and Jean Moréas. After finishing at the Lycée, he enrolled at the École des langues orientales, where he studied Syriac and Hebrew.
His first book of verse, Le Poème des Décadences, appeared in 1899. Milosz travelled widely in Europe and North Africa and explored many foreign literatures. He was an excellent Linguist and was fluent in English, German, Italian, Spanish, Russian and Polish, as well as being able to read Latin and Hebrew. Later in life, he would learn Lithuanian and Basque too. He chose to write his works in French.
On December 14, 1914, following on an intensive reading of the writings of Emanuel Swedenborg, Milosz experienced an illumination, a Divine vision that he described to one of his friends as "I have seen the spiritual sun." On the wake of this vision, his poetry became more hermetic and more mature. He began the study of alchemy, the Kabbalah, Jacob Boehme, Paracelsus, the history of secret esoteric orders. At the same time, he engaged in Catholic meditative practices.
In 1916, during World War I, Milosz was conscripted to the Russian division of the French army and was assigned to the press corps. Here he learned about the growing movement for Lithuanian independence. By the end of the war when both Lithuania and Poland were effectively independent again, Milosz chose to identify with Lithuania - even though he did not yet speak Lithuanian — because he believed that it had been the original homeland of his ancestors in the 13th century. After the Russian revolution of 1917, Milosz's estate at Čareja came under Soviet control and was seized by the Bolsheviks. In 1920 when France recognized the independence of Lithuania, he was appointed officially as Chargé d'Affaires for the new state. In 1931 he became a French citizen and was awarded the Légion d'honneur.
Ill with cancer, he died of a heart attack at his house in Fontainebleau in 1939.