there’s always a little joy, and even beauty lies close at hand, beneath the bark of every hour, in the quiet heart of concentration, and another person hides in each of us — universal, strong, invincible. — Adam Zagajewski, from “Three Angels,” Pangolin House, Spring 2014. Translated by Clare Cavanagh
No sleep, not tonight. The window blazes. Over the city, fireworks soar and explode. No sleep: too much has gone on. Rows of books stand vigil above you. You’ll brood on what’s happened and what hasn’t. No sleep, not tonight. Your inflamed eyelids will rebel, your fiery eyes sting, your heart swell with remembrance. No… Continue reading Adam Zagajewski
My contemporaries like small objects, dried starfish that have forgotten the sea, melancholy stopped clocks, postcards sent from vanished cities, and blackened with illegible script, in which they discern words like ‘yearning,’ ‘illness,’ or ‘the end. They marvel at dormant volcanoes. They don’t desire light. — Adam Zagajewski, “Small Objects,” Eternal Enemies: Poems. Trans. by… Continue reading Adam Zagajewski
Long Afternoons Those were the long afternoons when poetry left me. The river flowed patiently, nudging lazy boats to sea Long afternoons, the coast of ivory Shadows lounged in the streets, haugty manikins in shopfronts stared at me with bold and hostile eyes. Professors left their school with vacant faces as if the Illiad had… Continue reading Adam Zagajewski
Oh, tell me how to cure myself of irony, the gaze that sees but doesn’t penetrate; tell me how to cure myself of silence. — Adam Zagajewski, from “Long Afternoons,” Translated from the Polish by Clare Cavanagh, Partisan Review, Spring 1998.
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 gray feather a thrush lost, and the gentle light that… Continue reading Adam Zagajewski
In love with the earth, always drawn to shore, sending wave after wave—and each dies exhausted, like a Greek messenger. At dawn only whispers reach us, the low murmur of pebbles cast on sand (sensed even in the fishing town’s small square). — Adam Zagajewski, from “The Sea,” Eternal Enemies. Transl. (Farrar, Straus and Giroux,… Continue reading Adam Zagajewski