18 November 2007

Adam Zagajewski ~ Three Poems

Adam Zagajewski

Those who don't like it say it's
just a mutant violin
that's been kicked out of the chorus.
Not so.
The cello has many secrets,
but it never sobs,
just sings in its low voice.
Not everything turns into song
though. Sometimes you catch
a murmer or a whisper:
I'm lonely,
I can't sleep.

Translated by Clare Cavanagh,

Adam Zagajewski

Probably I am an ordinary middle-class
believer in individual rights, the word
"freedom" is simple to me, it doesn't mean
the freedom of any class in particular.
Politically naive, with an average
education (brief moments of clear vision
are its main nourishment), I remember
the blazing appeal of that fire which parches
the lips of the thirsty crowd and burns
books and chars the skin of cities. I used to sing
those songs and I know how great it is
to run with others; later, by myself,
with the taste of ashes in my mouth, I heard
the lie's ironic voice and the choir screaming
and when I touched my head I could feel
the arched skull of my country, its hard edge.

Translated by Renata Gorczynski.

In May
Adam Zagajewski

As I walked at dawn in the forest
in May. I kept asking where you are, souls
of the dead. Where are you, the young ones
who are missing, where are you,
the completely transformed?
Great stillness reigned in the forest,
and I heard the green leaves dream,
I heard the dream of the bark from which
boats, ships, and sails will arise.
Then, slowly, birds joined in,
goldfinches, thrushes, blackbirds
on the balconies of branches, each of them spoke
differently, in his own voice, not asking for anything,
with no bitterness or regret.
And I realized you are in singing,
unseizable as music, indifferent as
musical notes, distant from us
as we are from ourselves.

Translated by Renata Gorczynski.
From: Adam Zagajewski. 2002. Without End: New and Selected Poems. Farrar Straus Giroux. Pages 252, 101, 100.

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