Those Polish Poets

World War II and Poland seemed to create a unique environment for poetry. That unfortunate Catholic country, smack between Russia and Germany,  produced dozens of wise, chastened, articulate writers, many of whose poems I’ve posted in the past. One I hadn’t read before is Ryszard Krynicki.  He mostly writes short, bitter, ironic poems, like salt on the rim of the glass:


–What rights?
do you mean?
The right to life?
You can’t extend it even by an instant,
though you’re dying of curiosity:
who won, who killed.
–The right to fight?
The right of the fittest comes first…
So you’re speaking not of human
rights, Continue reading “Those Polish Poets”

An exemplary sentence

41K5ATQ9E5LAlthough I primarily know him as a poet, I love Adam Zagewski’s prose. Here is a snippet from his memoir of his student days in Krakow, Another Beauty,  beautifully translated by Clare Cavanagh. It’s about the cleaning lady for his student apartment:

She was a magpie, a snoop. I suspected her of regularly rummaging though our things and once left a card that said “Please don’t look here” in my desk drawer. Helena took offense and didn’t speak to me for several days, and then, when her anger had subsided, she reproached me bitterly: “How could you even think such a thing? So you don’t trust me at all.” Continue reading “An exemplary sentence”