Monday, January 12, 2015

This Mutilated World


Without End by Adam Zagajewski

A collection of collections, Without End includes poems from various collections of Zagajewski’s poetry, including New Poems, Early Poems, Tremor, Canvas, and Mysticism For Beginners.

Here is a small sampling of what you’ll find:

Good Friday in the Tunnels of the Métro

Jews of various religions meet
In the tunnels of the Métro, rosary beads
Spilled from someone’s tender fingers.

Above them priests sleep after their Lenten supper,
Above them the pyramids of synagogues and churches
Stand like the rocks a glacier left behind.

I listened to the St. Matthew Passion,
Which transforms pain into beauty,
I read the Death Fugue by Celan
Transforming pain into beauty.

In the tunnels of the Métro no transformation of pain,
It is there, it persists and is keen.

Song of an Emigré

We come into being in alien cities.
We call them native but not for long.
We are allowed to admire their walls and spires.
From east to west we go, and in front of us
rolls the huge circle of flaming
sun through which, nimbly, as in a circus,
a tame lion jumps. In alien cities
we look at the work of Old Masters
and we recognize our faces in the old
paintings without surprise. We lived
before and we even knew suffering,
we lacked only words. At the Orthodox
church in Paris, the last White
gray-haired Russians pray to God, who
is centuries younger than they and equally
helpless. In alien cities we’ll
remain, like trees, like stones.

Try To Praise the Mutilated World

Try to praise the mutilated world.
Remember June’s long days,
and wild strawberries, drops of rosé wine.
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 going 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 gray feather a thrush lost,
and the gentle light that strays and vanishes
and returns.

Adam Zagajewski was born in Lvov, Poland in 1945. Considered one of the “Generation of ‘68” or “New Wave” writers in Poland, he has written numerous collections of both poetry and prose. He lives in France.


                                               Peter Adam Nash

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