Friday, January 23, 2015


More tranquil memories from the autumn woodlands.


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 sleep. The encyclopedias will open
and poets, dressed carefully,

bundled for winter, will stroll out one by one.
Memory will open, with a sudden hiss
like a parachute's. Memory will open,
you won't sleep,
rocked slowly through clouds,
an easy target in the firework's glow.
No sleep: so much has gone on,
so much been revealed.
You know each drop of blood
could compose its own scarlet Iliad,
each dawn author
a dark diary. No sleep,
under the thick blanket of roofs, attics,
and chimneys casting out handfuls of ash.

Pale nights row noiselessly into the sky,
their oars silk stockings delicately rustling.
You'll go out to the park, and tree limbs
will amiably thump your shoulder, making
sure, confirming your fidelity. No sleep.
You'll race through the uninhabited park,
a shadow facing more shadows.
You'll think of someone who's no more
and of someone else living so fully
that her life at its edges changes
to love. Light, more light
gathers in the room. No sleep, not tonight.

Adam Zagajewski

Canvas; translated from the Polish by Renata Gorczynski, Benjamin Ivry and C.K. Williams,
Farrar Straus Giroux, 1997

I cannot stay away from this marvelous poet! So here we are again. Short sentences, longer sentences, short lines, longer lines. And the clear movement of the mind, the way it often moves. Praise to the translators, too, for something that is so vivid in English.

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