Friday, June 27, 2014

Try to Praise

Last year I had S pull over to the side of the road so I could try to capture the sweep of this landscape. In the years immediately following the fall of the Twin Towers, these road trips across the country and back so we could spend summer and autumn near our daughter in Michigan were very important to my sense of being an American (and pleased about that) all my life.

I've been saving this poem for quite some time. It is Adam Zagajewski's poem that appeared in the New Yorker on September 24, 2001.

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 gray feather a thrush lost,
and the gentle light that strays and vanishes
and returns.

—Adam Zagajewski

Translated, from the Polish, by Clare Cavanagh.)
The New Yorker, September 24, 2001.

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