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Thread related poetry

by MarekNYC Thu Feb 9th, 2006 at 01:04:42 AM EST

I love poetry. Poland has been blessed with a ridiculous amount of good and great poets this century, perhaps in compensation for a relative paucity of great prose. So tonight and tomorrow I'll post a couple poems somehow related to recent Eurotrib debates (Polish first for Agnesa and Chis, then the English translation). But to start off, one for those feeling depressed by the news or enraged by a debate.


(Spróbuj opiewać okaleczony świat)
Zagajewski Adam

Spróbuj opiewać okaleczony świat.

Pamiętaj o długich dniach czerwca

i o poziomkach, kroplach wina rosé.

O pokrzywach, które metodycznie zarastały

opuszczone domostwa wygnanych.

Musisz opiewać okaleczony świat.

Patrzyłeś na eleganckie jachty i okręty;

jeden z nich miał przed sobą długą podróż,

na inny czekała tylko słona nicość.

Widziałeś uchodźców, którzy szli donikąd ,

słyszałeś oprawców, którzy radośnie śpiewali.

Powinieneś opiewać okaleczony świat.

Pamiętaj o chwilach, kiedy byliście razem

w białym pokoju i firanka poruszyła się.

Wróć myślą do koncertu, kiedy wybuchła muzyka.

Jesienią zbierałeś żołędzie w parku

a liście wirowały nad bliznami ziemi.

Opiewaj okaleczony świat

i szare piórko, zgubione przez drozda,

i delikatne światło, które błądzi i znika

i powraca.

     Try To Praise The Mutilated World

      Try to praise the mutilated world.

Remember June's long days,

and wild strawberries, drops of wine, the dew.

The nettles that methodically overgrow

the abandoned homesteads of exiles.

You must praise the mutilated world.

You watched the stylish yachts and ships;

one of them had a long trip ahead of it,

while salty oblivion awaited others.

You've seen the refugees heading nowhere,

you've heard the executioners sing joyfully.

You should praise the mutilated world.

Remember the moments when we were together

in a white room and the curtain fluttered.

Return in thought to the concert where music flared.

You gathered acorns in the park in autumn

and leaves eddied over the earth's scars.

Praise the mutilated world

and the grey feather a thrush lost,

and the gentle light that strays and vanishes

and returns.

Display:
Moja wierna mowo
Miłosz Czesław

Moja wierna mowo,
służyłem tobie.
Co noc stawiałem przed tobą miseczki z kolorami,
żebyś miała i brzozę i konika polnego i gila
zachowanych w mojej pamięci.

Trwało to dużo lat.
Byłaś moją ojczyzną bo zabrakło innej.
Myślałem że będziesz także pośredniczką
pomiędzy mną i dobrymi ludźmi,
choćby ich było dwudziestu, dziesięciu,
albo nie urodzili się jeszcze.

Teraz przyznaję się do zwątpienia.
Są chwile kiedy wydaje się, że zmarnowałem życie.
Bo ty jesteś mową upodlonych,
mową nierozumnych i nienawidzących
siebie bardziej może od innych narodów,
mową konfidentów,
mową pomieszanych,
chorych na własną niewinność.

Ale bez ciebie kim jestem.
Tylko szkolarzem gdzieś w odległym kraju,
a success, bez lęku i poniżeń.
No tak, kim jestem bez ciebie.
Filozofem takim jak każdy.

Rozumiem, to ma być moje wychowanie:
gloria indywidualności odjęta,
Grzesznikowi z moralitetu
czerwony dywan podścieła Wielki Chwał,
a w tym samym czasie latarnia magiczna
rzuca na płótno obrazy ludzkiej i boskiej udręki.

Moja wierna mowo,
może to jednak ja muszę ciebie ratować.
Więc będę dalej stawiać przed tobą miseczki z kolorami
jasnymi i czystymi jeżeli to możliwe,
bo w nieszczęściu potrzebny jakiś ład czy piękno.

My Faithful Mother Tongue

Faithful mother tongue
I have been serving you.
Every night, I sued to set before you little bowls of colors so you could have your birch, your cricket, your finch
as preserved in my memory.

This lasted many years.
You were my native land; I lacked any other.
I believed that you would also be a messenger
between me and some good people
even if they were few, twenty, ten
or not born, as yet.

Now, I confess my doubt.
There are moments when it seems to me I have squandered my life.
For you are a tongue of the debased,
of the unreasonable, hating themselves
even more than they hate other nations,
a tongue of informers,
a tongue of the confused,
ill with their own innocence.

But without you, who am I?
Only a scholar in a distant country,
a success, without fears and humiliations.
Yes, who am I without you?
Just a philosopher, like everyone else.

I understand, this is meant as my education:
the glory of individuality is taken away,
Fortune spreads a read carpet
before the sinner in a morality play
while on the linen backdrop a magic lantern throws
images of human and divine torture.

Faithful mother tongue,
perhaps after all it's I who must try to save you.
So I will continue to set before you little bowls of colors
bright and pure if possible
for what is needed in misfortune is a little order and beauty.

by MarekNYC on Thu Feb 9th, 2006 at 01:20:35 AM EST
Adam Zagajewski was born in Lwow in 1945, in the same year his parents, along with the rest of the Polish majority population was forced to leave to be resettled in what had been eastern Germany.

Adam Zagajewski - Jechać do Lwowa

Jechać do Lwowa. Z którego dworca jechać
do Lwowa, jeżeli nie we śnie, o świcie,
gdy rosa na walizkach i właśnie rodzą się
ekspresy i torpedy. Nagle wyjechać do
Lwowa, w środku nocy, w dzień, we wrześniu
lub w marcu. Jeżeli Lwów istnieje, pod
pokrowcami granic i nie tylko w moim
nowym paszporcie, jeżeli proporce drzew
jesiony i topole wciąż oddychają głośno
jak Indianie a strumienie bełkocą w swoim
ciemnym esperanto a zaskrońce jak miękki
znak w języku rosyjskim znikają wśród
traw. Spakować się i wyjechać, zupełnie
bez pożegnań, w południe, zniknąć
tak jak mdlały panny. I łopiany, zielona
armia łopianów, a pod nimi, pod parasolami
weneckiej kawiarni, ślimaki rozmawiają
o wieczności. Lecz katedra wznosi się,
pamiętasz, tak pionowo, tak pionowo
jak niedziela i serwetki białe i wiadro
pełne malin stojące na podłodze i moje
pragnienie, którego jeszcze nie było,
tylko ogrody chwasty i bursztyn
czereśni i Fredro nieprzyzwoity.
Zawsze było za dużo Lwowa, nikt nie umiał
zrozumieć wszystkich dzielnic, usłyszeć
szeptu każdego kamienia, spalonego przez
słońce, cerkiew w nocy milczała zupełnie
inaczej niż katedra, Jezuici chrzcili
rośliny, liść po liściu, lecz one rosły,
rosły bez pamięci, a radość kryła się
wszędzie, w korytarzach i młynkach do
kawy, które obracały się same, w niebieskich
imbrykach i w krochmalu, który był pierwszym

formalistą, w kroplach deszczu i w kolcach
róż. Pod oknem żółkły zamarznięte forsycje.
Dzwony biły i drżało powietrze, kornety
zakonnic jak szkunery płynęły pod
teatrem, świata było tak wiele, że musiał
bisować nieskończoną ilość razy,
publiczność szalała i nie chciała
opuszczać sali. Moje ciotki jeszcze
nie wiedziały, że je kiedyś wskrzeszę
i żyły tak ufnie i tak pojedynczo,
służące biegły po świeżą śmietanę,
czyste i wyprasowane, w domach trochę
złości i wielka nadzieja. Brzozowski
przyjechał na wykłady jeden z moich
wujów pisał poemat pod tytułem Czemu,
ofiarowany wszechmogącemu i było za dużo
Lwowa, nie mieścił się w naczyniu,
rozsadzał szklanki, wylewał się ze
stawów, jezior, dymił ze wszystkich
kominów, zamieniał się w ogień i w burzę,
śmiał się błyskawicami, pokorniał,
wracał do domu, czytał Nowy Testament,
spał na tapczanie pod huculskim kilimem,
było za dużo Lwowa a teraz nie ma
go wcale, rósł niepowstrzymanie a nożyce
cięły, zimni ogrodnicy jak zawsze
w maju bez litości bez miłości
ach poczekajcie aż przyjdzie ciepły
czerwiec i miękkie paprocie, bezkresne
pole lata czyli rzeczywistości.
Lecz nożyce cięły, wzdłuż linii i poprzez
włókna, krawcy, ogrodnicy i cenzorzy
cięli ciało i wieńce, sekatory niezmordowanie
pracowały, jak w dziecinnej wycinance
gdzie trzeba wystrzyc łabędzia lub sarnę.
Nożyczki, scyzoryki i żyletki drapały
cięły i skracały pulchne sukienki
prałatów i placów i kamienic, drzewa
padały bezgłośnie jak w dżungli
i katedra drżała i żegnano się o poranku
bez chustek i bez łez, takie suche
wargi, nigdy cię nie zobaczę, tyle śmierci
czeka na ciebie, dlaczego każde miasto
musi stać się Jerozolimą i każdy
człowiek Żydem i teraz tylko w pośpiechu
pakować się, zawsze, codziennie
i jechać bez tchu, jechać do Lwowa, przecież
istnieje, spokojny i czysty jak
brzoskwinia. Lwów jest wszędzie.

    To Go to Lvov
    Zagajewski Adam

 To My Parents

To go to Lvov. Which station

for Lvov, if not in a dream, at dawn, when dew

gleans on a suitcase, when express

trains and bullet trains are being born. To leave

in haste for Lvov, night or day, in September

or in March. But only if Lvov exist,

if it is to be found within the frontiers and not just

in my new passport, if lances of trees

of poplar and ash - still breathe aloud

like Indians, and if streams mumble

their dark Esperanto, and grass snakes like soft

signs in the Russian language disappear

into thickets. To pack and set off, to leave

withour a trace, at noonto vanish

like fainting maidens. And burdocks, green

armies of burdocks, and below, under the canvas

of a Venetian café, the snails converse

about eternity. But the cathedral rises,

you remember, so straight, as straight

as Sunday and white napkins and a bucket

full of raspberries standing on the floor, and

my desire which wasn`t born yet,

only gardens and weeds and the amber

of Queen Anne cherries, and indecent Fredro.

There was always too much of Lvov, no one could

comprehend its boroughs, hear

the murmur of each stone scorched

by the sun, at night the Orthodox church`s silence was unlike

that of the cathedral, the Jesuits

baptized plants, leaf by leaf, but they grew,

grew so mindlessly, and joy hovered

everywhere, in hallways and in coffee mills

revolving by themselves, in blue

teapots, in starch, which was the first

formalist, in drops of rain and in the thorns

of roses. Frozen forsythia yellowed by the window.

The bells pealed and the air vibrated, the cornets

of nuns sailed like schooners near

the theater, there was so much of the world that

it had to do encores over and over,

the audience was in frenzy and didn`t want

to leave the house. My aunts couldn`t have known

yet that I`d resurrect them,

and lived so trustfully, so singly;

servants, clean and ironed, ran for

fresh cream, inside the houses

a bit of anger and great expectation, Brzozowski

came as a visiting lecturer, one of my

uncles kept writing a poem entitled Why,

dedicated to the Almighty, and there was too much

of Lvov, it brimmed the container,

it burst glasses, overflowed

each pond, lake, smoked through every

chimney, turned into fire, storm,

laughed with lightning, grew meek,

returned home, read the New Testament,

slept on a sofa beside the Carpathian rug,

there was too much of Lvov, and now

there isn`t any, it grew relentlessly

and the scissors cut it, chilly gardeners

as always in May, without mercy,

without love, ah, wait till warm June

comes with soft ferns, boundless

fields of summer, i.e., the reality.

But scissors cut it, along the line and through

the fiber, tailors, gardeners, censors

cut the body and the wreaths, pruning shears worked

diligently, as in a child`s cutout

along the dotted line of a roe deer a swan.

Scissors, penknives, and razor blades scratched,

cut, and shortened the voluptuous dresses

of prelates, of squares and houses, and trees

fell soundlessly, as in a jungle,

and the cathedral trembled, people bade goodbye

without handkerchiefs, no tears, such a dry

mouth, I won`t see you anymore, so much death

awaits you, why must every city

become Jerusalem and every man a Jew,

and now in a hurry just

pack, always, each day,

and go breathless, go to Lvov, after all

it exists, quiet and pure as

a peach. It is everywhere.

Translated by Renata Gorczynska

by MarekNYC on Thu Feb 9th, 2006 at 01:43:51 AM EST
Tangential question: can you tell me something about how Stanisław Lem made it across WWII and the ensuing ethnic cleansing? Was he among the deported of Lvov/Lemberg, or was he already somewhere else at war's end?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Feb 9th, 2006 at 09:55:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't know how and exactly when Lem left Lwow NB I tend to choose the name of the city according to what the majority of the local inhabitants called it unless there is a standard name in the language I'm using- thus Lem left Lwow (Polish, pronounced Lvoov) and might choose to revisit Lviv (Ukrainian, pronounced Lveev), just as in today's Wroclaw (Polish) you'll often see tour groups made up of elderly former inhabitants of Breslau (German). Speaking in German I'll always use Breslau and Lemberg except when I wish to emphasize something (e.g. when speaking about the transformation of Breslau into Wroclaw).  No reason to for English speakers to use the Russian name for Lviv today.
by MarekNYC on Thu Feb 9th, 2006 at 10:23:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I thought Lvov is the standard English form, also from the poem translation you posted.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Feb 9th, 2006 at 02:56:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It is sort of the standard English form - in that in English the Russian names of cities in the former USSR are standard. Go back in time and the 'standard English' name was Lemberg, even though there weren't that many native German speakers around in Habsburg times. The imperial power's name becomes the standard. I even remember once looking at 1848 era English language stuff and seeing your home city referred to as 'Ofen.' (there were plenty of German speakers there at the time, but that wasn't the reason the German name was used) Same goes for other cities in the Habsburg empire - Agram anyone?.  It's interesting btw that even in German many of these names are dead or dying out.
by MarekNYC on Thu Feb 9th, 2006 at 03:16:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So, just to confirm, between the wars, English maps used "Lwow"?

Regarding 'Ofen', some fun facts:

The name is the literal translation of 'Pest', the name of the onetime left-bank merchant town, which did mean 'oven'/'pit' - in some local Slavic language (Slavs assimilated by Hungarians). Curiously, the name came from the right bank: there was a hot water well in a cave of a mountain flanking the Danube, and Pest was originally Pest-rév (=Pest-ferry ~ 'ferry-haven for Hot Springs').

However, the Germans returned the name to the right bank: Ofen became the German name of Buda, the right-bank royal town.

Buda in turn was earlier Újbuda (=New Buda), and what is today Óbuda (=Old Buda) further North was Buda - a name that probably comes from "voda" (e.g. water in Slavic), and was the literal-translation name of the roman provincial capital Aquincum on whose ruins it was built - a name that also referred to hot springs...

Furthermore, a really funny fact: in 1848, just when its population started the Hungarian revolution, the wide majority of the population of both Pest and Buda was German-speaking! No wonder that even on pre-1867 Hungarian maps, you may find "Ofen".

The naming of cities is a really fluid thing.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Thu Feb 9th, 2006 at 03:58:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Do you have something by Wistawa Szymborska? I like her "il Paesaggio" (The landscape), but only have Italian version.
by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Thu Feb 9th, 2006 at 02:38:23 AM EST
You can find some beautiful poems by Szymborska posted by Marek on the following thread
Love songs, books, movies/be my Valentine

When through hell, just keep going. W. Churchill
by Agnes a Paris on Thu Feb 9th, 2006 at 05:01:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks! Very beautiful. I've always liked the timber of her voice, even in Italian.
by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Thu Feb 9th, 2006 at 04:27:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I am unfortunately near-deaf to poetry (I could have added that into the second seven in my reply in the listmania thread), but here is one poem, first in original, then in English, then some context:

Petofi Sándor: Akasszátok fel a királyokat!

Lamberg szivében kés, Latour nyakán
Kötél, s utánok több is jön talán,
Hatalmas kezdesz lenni végre, nép!
Ez mind igen jó, mind valóban szép,
De még ezzel nem tettetek sokat -
Akasszátok föl a királyokat!

Kaszálhatod a fűt világvégeig,
Holnap kinő az, ha ma lenyesik;
Tördelheted le a fa lombjait,
Idő jártával újra kivirít;
Tövestül kell kitépni azokat -
Akasszátok föl a királyokat!

Vagy nem tanúltad még meg, oh, világ,
Gyűlölni méltóképpen a királyt?
Oh, hogyha szétönthetném köztetek
Azt a szilaj veszett gyülöletet,
Mitől keblem, mint a tenger, dagad! -
Akasszátok föl a királyokat!

Szívöknek minden porcikája rossz,
Már anyja méhéből gazságot hoz,
Vétek, gyalázat teljes élete,
Szemétől a levegő fekete,
S megromlik a föld, melyben elrohad -
Akasszátok föl a királyokat!

Ezerfelé bús harcmező a hon,
Arat rajt a halál irtóztatón,
Itt egy falu, amott egy város ég,
Százezerek jajától zúg a lég;
S halál, rablás mind a király miatt -
Akasszátok föl a királyokat!

Hiába ömlik, hősök, véretek:
Ha a koronát el nem töritek,
Fejét a szörny ismét fölemeli,
S akkor megint elöl kell kezdeni.
Hiába lenne ennyi áldozat? -
Akasszátok föl a királyokat!

Mindenkinek barátság, kegyelem,
Csak a királyoknak nem, sohasem!
Lantom s kardom kezembül eldobom,
A hóhérságot majd én folytatom,
Ha kívülem rá ember nem akad -
Akasszátok föl a királyokat!

Knife in the heart of Lamberg, on Latour's neck
Rope, and after them more will come maybe,
You are turning powerful at last, oh People!
All this is jolly good, all is truly nice,
But with this, you haven't done much -
Hang all the kings!

You can mow down the grass until the end of the world,
It will grow again if it is trimmed today;
You can break off the leafs of the tree,
With passing time it will bloom again;
They must be uprooted -
Hang all the kings!

Or haven't you yet learned, oh World,
To hate the king as befits him?
Oh, if I could flush among you
That savage rabid hate,
From which my breast overfills, like a sea! -
Hang all the kings!

Every portion of their heart is evil,
Already from his mother's womb he takes roguery,
Sin, dishonor is all his life,
From his eye the air is black,
And the earth fouls in which he rots away -
Hang all the kings!

Thousand-places sad battlefield is the Home[land],
Death reapes upon it terribly,
Here a village, there a city burns,
The air roars from the moans of hundreds of thousands;
And death, pillage all because of the king -
Hang all the kings!

Heroes, your blood flows for nothing:
If you don't break the crown,
The monster will raise its head again,
And then we have to start again.
Could so much sacrifice have been for nothing? -
Hang all the kings!

Friendship and mercy to everyone,
Except the kings, to them, never!
My lyre and sword I'll throw from my hands,
I will continue the hangman's job,
If apart from me no man can be found for it -
Hang all the kings!

The context

Petőfi was a fiery revolutionary poet, and to this day the most popular poet in Hungary. He is loved as their own by every political direction from far-right through center to far-left, because his views were complex and personal enough for everyone to find stuff intersecting their ideology. Just consider that he was a fiery patriot and fighter for the Hungarian language, even though his father's ancestors were Serbian (original name: Petrovic) and his mother was Slovakian.

The poem was written in December 1848. In the spring of that year, revolutions swept across Europe. Petőfi was a leading figure of the bloodless Buda/Pest revolution, but then became a critic of the liberal aristocrats who came to power. The latter were much less ambitious for reforms, in particular, they were content with autonomy within the Habsburg monarchy with the king's1 approval. But in the summer the old king was removed and young Francis-Joseph II installed in his stead, and he ordered a military attack. (The backlash was Europe-wide, all but two revolutions were crushed by December.) Yet the Hungarian government wouldn't declare an independent republic until early next year.

With help from Russia (the secret Holy Alliance, brokered by arch-conservative absolutist rulers to help each other in case of a revolution, came to life), the revolution was crushed by late spring 1849, and in the process Petőfi was probably killed on the battlefield (his exact whereabouts are a matter of controversy).

  1. The Habsburg Emperor also held the title King of Hungary, hence the title usage.



*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Feb 9th, 2006 at 06:32:59 AM EST
Vasil Levski was the greatest Bulgarian who ever existed in our small but glorious country! He fought for the liberation from Ottoman yoke and payed with his life. I would like to post the most praising poem
of his devotion to the motherland written by another revolutioner-Hristo Botev:

Before the poem- a humble image of Bulgaria's
greatest son!


Обесването на Васил Левски

О, майко моя, родино мила,
защо тъй жално, тъй милно плачеш?
Гарване, и ти, птицо проклета,
на чий гроб там тъй грозно грачеш ?

Ох, зная, зная, ти плачеш, майко,
затуй, че ти си черна робиня,
затуй, че твоят свещен глас, майко,
е глас без помощ, глас във пустиня.

Плачи! Там близо край град София
стърчи, аз видях, черно бесило,
и твой един син, Българийо,
виси на него със страшна сила.

Гарванът грачи грозно, зловещо,
псета и вълци вият в полята,
старци се молят богу горещо,
жените плачат, пищят децата.

Зимата пее свойта зла песен,
вихрове гонят тръни в полето,
и студ, и мраз, и плач без надежда
навяват на теб скръб на сърцето

In English:

The Hanging Of Levski

O you, my Mother, my Native Land,
Why is your cry so sad and heart-rending!
And you, O Raven, accursed bird,
On whose grave croak you of ill impending?

I know, ah I know, you weep, my Mother,
Because you're a slave in bondage lying,
You weep because your sacred voice
Is a helpless voice in a desert crying.

Weep on, weep on! Near Sofia town
A ghastly gallows I have seen standing,
And your own son, Bulgaria,
There with dreadful force is hanging.

The raven gives its grim hoarse croak,
Dogs yelp, wolves howl, the sky is bleak,
Old men in prayers their God invoke,
Women shed tears, the children shriek.

The winter sings its evil song,
Squalls chase the thistles in the plain,
And cold and frost and hopeless tears
Wring and twist your heart with pain.

In French:

La pendaison de Vassil Levski

*****

O Bulgarie!
O ma mère, ô patrie chérie!
Pourquoi pleurer si tristement?
Et toi, corbeau, maudit oiseau,
Sur quel tombeau croasses-tu?

Je sais, je sais, mère, tu pleures
De te sentir en esclavage!
Ta sainte voix est impuissante,
C'est une voix dans le désert.

Pleure! Là-bas, près de Sofia,
Se dresse un gibet, je l'ai vu!
Et ton fils, l'unique entre tous
Y pend de son terrible poids.

Le corbeau hideux y croasse
Et les loups hurlent dans la plaine.
Et les vieillards implorent le ciel,
Les enfants crient, les femmes pleurent.

L'hiver chante ses mauvais airs,
Les rafales couchent les ronces.
Le froid, le gel, le désespoir
Te comblent le coeur de douleur.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I'm not ugly,but my beauty is a total creation.Hegel

by Chris on Thu Feb 9th, 2006 at 07:17:26 AM EST
I look forward to rereading this when I settle down with my little glass of calvados this evening.

Do not feel safe. The poet remembers.
Czeslaw Milosz
by Chris Kulczycki on Thu Feb 9th, 2006 at 09:31:26 AM EST
Can't find this one online, doing Polish characters is  a pain, so with excuses to the Polish speakers. Milosz spent most of his childhood and his early adult years and what was the Polish-Jewish city of Wilno. That city ceased to exist, first with the extermination of its Jewish population, then the expulsion of its Polish inhabitants. Today it is Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania. It does have a Polish minority, but they are migrants from the surrounding rural areas where local Poles were given the choice of staying or going to Poland (like rural areas in Western Belarus and unlike rural areas in Western Ukraine). The poem was written in 1945 so it also serves as an elegy for Warsaw, now a pile of rubble, where Milosz spent most of the war and a general meditation on war and loss. It is also an ode on lost youth - all intertwined.  Milosz's major poem on Wilno is "City without a name", but that is much too long to be included in this diary.  He also wrote a number of other shorter poems on the subject.

Farewell

I speak to you, my son,
after years of silence. Verona is no more.
I crumbled its brickdust in my fingers. That is what remains
of the great love of native cities.

I hear your laughter in the garden. And the mad spring's
scent comes toward me across the wet leaves.
Toward me, who, not believing in any saving power,
outlived the others and myself as well.

Do you  know how it is when one wakes
at night suddenly and asks,
listening to the pounding heart: what more do you want,
insatiable? Spring, a nightingale is singing.

Children's laughter in the garden. A first clear star
above a foam of buds on the hills
and a light song returns to my lips
and I am young again, as before, in Verona.

To reject. To reject everything. That is not it.
It will neither resurrect the past nor return me to it.
Sleep, Romeo, Juliet, on your headrest of stone feathers.
I won't raise your bound hands from the ashes.
Let the cat visit the deserted cathedrals,
its pupil flashing on the altars. Let an owl
rest on the dead ogive.

In the white noon among the rubble, let the snake
warm itself on leaves of coltsfoot and in the silence
let him coil in lustrous circles around useless gold.
I won't return. I want to know what's left
after rejecting youth and spring,
after rejecting those red lips
from which heat seemed to flow
on sultry nights.

After songs and the scent of wine,
oaths and laments, diamond nights,
with the cry of gulls with the black sun
glaring behind them.

From life, from the apple cut by the flaming knife,
what grain will be saved?

My son, believe me, nothing remains.
Only adult toil,
the furrow of fate in the palm.
Only toil,
Nothing more.

trans. Robert Hass and Renata Gorczynska

by MarekNYC on Thu Feb 9th, 2006 at 12:26:56 PM EST
Incantation
by Czeslaw Milosz, translated by the author and Robert Pinsky

Human reason is beautiful and invincible.
No bars, no barbed wire, no pulping of books,
No sentence of banishment can prevail against it.
It establishes the universal ideas in language,
And guides our hand so we write Truth and Justice
With capital letters, lie and oppression with small.
It puts what should be above things as they are,
It is an enemy of despair and a friend of hope.
It does not know Jew from Greek or slave from master,
Giving us the estate of the world to manage.
It saves austere and transparent phrases
From the filthy discord of tortured words.
It says that everything is new under the sun,
Opens the congealed fist of the past.
Beautiful and very young are Philo-Sophia
And poetry, her ally in the service of the good.
As late as yesterday Nature celebrated their birth,
The news was brought to the mountains by a unicorn and an echo,
Their friendship will be glorious, their time has no limit,
Their enemies have delivered themselves to destruction.

I can't find the original text at the moment...


Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire

by p------- on Thu Feb 9th, 2006 at 12:33:40 PM EST
Here is another Bulgarian poem, but in the mood of the coming holiday.

Elisaveta Bagriana


УНЕС

Говорù, говорù, говорù! -
аз притварям очи и те слушам:
- Ето, минахме сънни гори
и летим над морета и суша...

Вляво кървава вечер гори,
вдясно тъмни пожарища пушат.
Де ще стигнем, кога зазори?
Този път накъде лъкатуши?

Там ли, дето свободни ще бдим
и ще бъдем два пламъка слети,
и в нощта, сред безбройни звезди,
като двойна звезда ще засветим?

- Ти не знаеш? Аз също не знам -
но води ме, води ме натам!

And my humble translation. (Please, if anybody has an original good translation, post it.) Sometimes a translation changes completely the way a piece of art sounds (like in my case, I fear). I was not able to find an appropriate word even for the title.

Dream

Talk to me, talk to me, talk to me! -
I half close my eyes and listen to you:
- Here, we passed dream forests
and now we are flying over seas and ground...

On the left, a bloody evening is burning,
On the right, dark fires are smoking.
Where are we going to be when the day dawns?
Where does this winding path go?

Is it there, where free we are to keep awake
and be two flames merged,
in the night, among countless stars,
like a twin star we will start shining?  

- You don't know? I don't know either -
but lead me, lead me there!

-- Fighting my own apathy..

by Naneva (mnaneva at gmail dot com) on Thu Feb 9th, 2006 at 05:56:49 PM EST
I thought of posting this one when someone put up an image of the empty tram in Warsaw to commemorate the Holocaust.

Jeszcze
Wislawa Szymborska

W zaplombowanych wagonach  
jadą krajem imiona,  
a dokąd tak jechać będą,  
a czy kiedy wysiędą,  
nie pytajcie, nie powiem, nie wiem.  

Imię Natan bije pięścią o ścianę,  
imię Izaak śpiewa obłąkane,  
imię Sara wody woła dla imienia  
Aaron, które umiera z pragnienia.  

Nie skacz w biegu, imię Dawida.  
Tyś jest imię skazujące na klęskę,  
nie dawane nikomu, bez domu,  
do noszenia w tym kraju zbyt ciężkie.  

Syn niech imię słowiańskie ma,  
bo tu liczą włosy na głowie,  
bo tu dzielą dobro od zła  
wedle imion i kroju powiek.  

Nie skacz w biegu. Syn będzie Lech.  
Nie skacz w biegu. Jeszcze nie pora.  
Nie skacz. Noc sie rozlega jak śmiech  
i przedrzeźnia kół stukanie na torach.  

Chmura z ludzi nad krajem szła,  
z dużej chmury mały deszcz, jedna łza,  
mały deszcz, jedna łza, suchy czas.  
Tory wiodą w czarny las.  

Tak to, tak, stuka koło. Las bez polan.  
Tak to, tak. Lasem jedzie transport wołań.  
Tak to, tak. Obudzona w nocy słyszę  
tak to, tak, łomotanie ciszy w ciszę.

Still [not as in quiet but as in he's still...]

Wislawa Szymborska

In sealed wagons they travel
names across the land
and where they so go
and when they'll get out
don't ask, won't say, don't know

Name Nathan slams at the wall
name Isaac sings in madness
name Sara cries out for water
for Aaron dying of thirst

Don't jump David, the train is moving
Yours is a name that condemns to defeat
homeless and given to one,
too heavy too bear in this land.

Let your son a Slavic name have,
for here they count hairs on the head,
for they divide good from evil
by names and eyelids' shape.

Don't jump while it's still moving. Your son will be Lech
Don't jump while it's moving. Not time yet.
Don't jump. Night echoes like laughter
and mocks the clattering wheels.

A cloud of people moved over the land
a big cloud, small rain, one tear,
a small rain, one tear, drought.
Tracks lead into the black forest.

Just like that, rattles the wheel. Meadowless forest.
Just like that. Through the forest the shipment of cries.
Just like that. Awakened in the night I hear
just like that, silence crashes into silence.

my translation

by MarekNYC on Fri Feb 10th, 2006 at 12:44:20 AM EST
wow...

a...

mazing

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Fri Feb 10th, 2006 at 09:34:31 AM EST
The first poem was so beautiful.  

It, as did some of the others, reminded me of the way I sometimes think of my youth, skimming, floating, like a movie special effect over the places I remember.  

But never touching down again for fear of breaking the spell.

alohapolitics.com

by Keone Michaels on Fri Feb 10th, 2006 at 01:12:23 PM EST


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