Polish poetry in translation: Literary Translation: TranslatorsCafe.com Forums

Translators are often called to be poets, those "creative artists of great imaginative and expressive gifts and special sensitivity to their medium."

by WISŁAWA SZYMBORSKA (1996 Nobel Prize)

More info about the author:
http://www.nobel.se/literature/ laureates / 1996 / poems-5-e.html

Oh, the leaky boundaries of man-made states! How many clouds float past them with impunity; one land to another

many mountain pebbles tumble to foreign soil
in provocative hops!

Need I mention every single bird that flies in the face of frontiers
or alights on the roadblock at the border?
A humble robin - still, its tail resides abroad
while its beak stays home. If that were not enough, it will not stop

Among innumerable insects, I'll single out only the ant
between the border guard's left and right boots
blithely ignoring the questions "Where from?" and "Where to?"

Oh, to register in detail, at a glance, the chaos
prevailing on every continent! smuggling its hundred-thousandth leaf across the river?
And who but the octopus, with impudent long arms, would disrupt the sacred boundaries of territorial waters?

And how can we talk of order Overall

All About The Stars - br> as if they had not partitioned!
And the voices coasting on obliging airwaves,
that conspiratorial squeaking, those indecipherable mutters!


The rest of the vegetation, subversive moles, and wind.

Lying in wait, set to pounce on the blank page, are letters up to no good, clutches of clauses are subordinate
they'll never let her get away.

p> Each drop of ink contains a fair supply of hunters, equipped with squinting eyes behind their sights,
prepared to swarm the sloping pen at any moment,
surround the doe, and slowly aim their guns.

They forget that what is here is not life.
Other laws, black on white, obtain.
The twinkling of an eye will take as long as I say, , if I wish, divide into tiny eternities,
full of bullets stopped in mid-flight.
Not a thing will ever happen unless I say so. I do not know what to do, but I do not know where to start.

An existence become endless at my bidding?

The joy of writing. / p>

(Translated by S. Baranczak & Clare Cavanagh


It does not take a joke,

In our planning for tomorrow, it has the final word, which is always beside the point.

It can not even get the things done
that's part of its trade:
dig a grave,
make a coffin, clean up after itself.

Preoccupied with killing, it does the job awkwardly, with no system or skill.

Oh, it has its triumphs, br> but look at its countless defeats,
missed blows, and repeat attempts!

Sometimes it is not strong enough to swat to fly from the air. Many are the caterpillars
that have outcrawled it.

Ill be will not help and even our lending a hand with wars and coups d'etat is just not enough.

Hearts beat inside eggs. 'skeletons grow.' - Seeds, hard at work, sprout their first tiny pair of leaves
and sometimes even tall trees fall away.

Whoever claims that it's omnipotent is himself living proof
that it's not.

There's no life
that could not be immortal
if only for a moment.

very moment too late.

In vain it tugs at the knob of the invisible door.

(Translated by S. Baranczak & Clare Cavanagh)

More news: EMAILS TO A FRIEND: October 2012


We are children of our age, >

All day long, all through the night,
all affairs - yours, ours, theirs -
are political affairs.

Whether you like it or not, genes have a political past,
your skin, a political cast,
your eyes, a political slant.

Whatever you say reverberates,
whatever you do not say speak for yourself.

Even when you take to the woods, you're either. taking political steps
political grounds.

Apolitical poems are also political,
and above shines to moon
no longer purely lunar.
To be or not to be, that is the question.
And though it troubles the digestion
it's a question, as always, of politics.

To acquire a political meaning you do not even have to be

Raw material will do,
or protein feed, or crude oil,

or a conference table whose shape was quarreled over for months:
Should we arbitrate life and death at a round table or a square one?

Meanwhile, people perished,
animals died,
houses burned, as in times immemorial
less political.

(Translated by Stanislaw Baranczak & Clare Cavanagh)


Nie zna się na żartach, at gwiazdach, at mostach, at tkactwie, at górnictwie, na uprawie roli, in the budowie okrętów i pieczeniu ciasta.

W nasze rozmowy o planach na jutro
wtrąca swoje ostatnie słowo
nie na temat.

Nie umie nawet tego,

ani grobu wykopać,
ani trumny sklecić,
ani sprzątnąć po sobie.

Zajęta zabijaniem,
robi to niezdarnie, Jakby na każdym z nas uczyła się dopiero.

Tryumfy tryumfami,
ale ileż klęsk,
ciosów chybionych
i prob podejmowanych od nowa!

Czasami brak jej siły,
żeby strącić muchę z powietrza.
Z niejedną gąsienicą
przegrywa wyścig w pełzaniu.

Te wszystkie bulwy, strąki,
czułki, płetwy, tchawki,
pióra godowe i zimowa sierść
świadczą o zaległościach
w jej marudnej pracy.

The Three Oddest Words

When I pronounce the word Future, the first syllable already belongs to the

When I pronounce the word "Nothing," I make something in the non-being can hold. Trzy słowa najdziwniejsze

Kiedy wymawiam słowo Przyszłość,
pierwsza sylaba

Kiedy wymawiam słowo Nic,
stwarzam coś, co nie mieści się w żadnym niebycie

  • Adam Floyd