From the other side of silence ceaselessly pass:dogs, willows, sudden orchards, moths white or gray(they fill the void that sometimes lacks a mouseto seal earth's gaping rift in any way),abysses strangled by a green rebirth,and girls who in their eyes bear heaven's weight,and silver clouds that mount above the earth,the faith that this, precisely this, is fate, is fate,and prayers for greater longing, and the coldfog from beyond the grave, bad spring times, badgods, and timeless lilacs, moths black or goldand you, who write these words, and grow so sad . . .
Copyright © 2019 translation by Jakob Ziguras
All rights reserved.
Reproduced by Poetry Daily with permission.
Bolesław Leśmian (1877–1937) was born in Warsaw, but spent his childhood and youth in Kiev, where he studied philology and law. Initially unappreciated, he is now widely seen as one of Poland’s greatest poets. His famously “untranslatable” poetry is characterized by a coherent artistic and philosophical worldview—which draws both on folk traditions and philosophy, in particular Bergson—an emphasis on constant becoming, and by his unmistakable style, marked in particular by his prodigious gift for creating striking neologisms to express that vision.
Jakob Ziguras was born in Wrocław, Poland, in 1977. His family emigrated to Australia in 1984. His debut collection, Chains of Snow (Pitt Street Poetry, 2013), was shortlisted for the 2014 Prime Minister’s Literary Award. His second collection, The Sepia Carousel, was published in 2016. He has translated Jan Kott’s Kaddish: Pages for Tadeusz Kantor (Seagull Press, 2019) and Marcin Kurek’s book-length poem Oleander (winner, in 2010, of the prestigious Kościelski Award). He is currently living in Poland, working on his third poetry collection, Venetian Mirrors, and translating various Polish poets.
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