Nigdy nie zapomnę / I’ll never forget

Anna Świrszczyńska


Ściskając w ramionach na pół uduszone od dymu niemowlę

biegła z krzykiem schodami podpalonego domu.

Z pierwszego piętra na drugie.

Z drugiego na trzecie.

Z trzeciego na czwarte.

Aż wyskoczyła na dach

i zachłysnąwszy się powietrzem, uczepiona komina

spojrzała w dół, skąd dobiegał

szelest podchodzących coraz wyżej płomieni.

Wtedy znieruchomiała i umilkła.

Milczała już do końca, aż do chwili,

gdy nagle zacisnęła powieki,

zrobiła krok ku krawędzi dachu i wysuwając przed siebie ręce

upuściła dziecko w dół.

Dwie sekundy wcześniej, nim skoczyła sama.



Cuddling in the arms her half-asphyxiated baby, howling,

she ran up the staircase of the apartment building that was set ablaze.

From the first floor to the second.

From the second to the third.

From the third to the fourth.

Until she had jumped onto the roof.

There, having choked with air, clinging to the chimney,

she looked down from where she could hear

the crackle of flames which were reaching higher and higher.

And then she became motionless and silent.

She kept silent to the end, till the moment

at which she suddenly clenched her eyelids,

stepped to the roof edge and, throwing forward her arms,

she dropped her baby down.

Two seconds earlier than she herself leapt down.


Anna Swirszczyńska (also known as Anna Swir) was born in Warsaw to an artistic though impoverished family. She studied medieval Polish literature. In the 1930s she worked for the teachers’ association, served as an editor, and began publishing poetry. Swirszczyńska joined the Resistance during World War II and worked as a military nurse during the Warsaw Uprising; at one point she came within an hour of being executed before she was spared. In addition to poetry, which deals with  themes such as motherhood, the female body, and sensuality, Swirszczyńska wrote plays and stories for children and directed a children’s theater. She lived in Krakow from 1945 until her death in 1984.

Poetry collections

  • Wiersze i proza (Poems and Prose) (1936)
  • Liryki zebrane (Collected Poems) (1958)
  • Czarne słowa (Black Words) (1967)
  • Wiatr (Wind) (1970)
  • Jestem baba (I am a Woman) (1972)
  • Poezje wybrane (Selected Poems) (1973)
  • Budowałam barykadę (Building the Barricade) (1974)
  • Szczęśliwa jak psi ogon (Happy as a Dog’s Tail) (1978)
  • Cierpienie i radość (Suffering and Joy) (1985)

Collections in English translation

  • Thirty-four Poems on the Warsaw Uprising (1977), New York. Transl.: Magnus Jan Kryński, Robert A. Maguire.
  • Building the Barricade (1979), Kraków. Transl.: Magnus Jan Kryński, Robert A. Maguire.
  • Happy as a Dog’s Tail (1985), San Diego. Transl.: Czesław Miłosz i Leonard Nathan.
  • Fat Like the Sun (1986), London. Transl.: M. Marshment, G. Baran.
  • Talking to My Body (Copper Canyon Press, 1996) Transl.: Czesław Miłosz i Leonard Nathan.
  • Building the Barricade and Other Poems of Anna Swir Tr. by Piotr Florczyk (Calypso Editions, 2011).

16 Komentarzy

Filed under Arcydzieło literackie / The Masterpiece in Literature, Poetry / Poezja, Poezja / Poetry, Rocznice/ Anniversaries

16 responses to “Nigdy nie zapomnę / I’ll never forget

  1. Wanda, not only is Anna’s poem (the one you’ve just posted) deep and touching, but it has created a vivid pic in my head. She was truly a warrior in her own right. Thank you for sharing this…

  2. This poem was so deeply sad! Nothing hurts a mother more than seeing her child suffer. Thank you, Wanda, for posting the English too. 🙂

    Blessings ~ Wendy

    • WM

      Thank you for being here, Wendy. Anna is a very little known writer even in Poland and all over the world as well. She is worthy to be famous. I publish an English translation to promote Anna’s oustanding poetic voice against violence.
      With best wishes,Wanda

  3. Powerful poem, Wanda. I could feel her horror as if it was happening to any of us. And, the painting? Was it done by the poet Czeslaw Milosz? Looks like you…

    • WM

      Good morning, Cheyenne. I am answering your question: Milosz is only an author of this book, an essay on Anna’s creativity. Yes, I agree with you: Anna and me have the same slavic type of appearance. I look like she… In fact I am a bit diffrent.

      • It is always odd when someone says you look like a particular person and you think, well yes, we are of the same general European descent, but actually a little different… I’ve had family members tell me that I look like three completely different actresses at different times in my life, and I wonder what exactly are they looking at…?! Anyway, back on topic, thank you for introducing me to Anna’s powerful poetry.

    • WM

      I like to look like Anna! She was a great, revolutionary Polish poet and every association with her is my great honour.
      Best wishes to you, Cheyenne.

  4. Za duzo emocji, Pani Wando, tez sie dusze….

  5. Wonderful post. Such a sad poem, but it needed to be expressed. The horror rips at the reader’s heart, and you just want to yell at the young mother, to go down, not up! So, so vivid. Thanks for sharing.

    • WM

      Dear Marsha, we still remember September 1, „our” September 1939. The WWII is generally accepted to have begun on 1 September 1939, with the invasion of Poland by Germany. This time (and „hard” consequences) means for us never-ending trauma. To forget is impossible and – we have to remember: no more war. Anna, an oustanding Polish poet and fighter, could to express it in very simple words.

  6. No more war. But what can we do, there are more wars and conflicts than ever I believe. We need more people to reed poems.

  7. WM

    Yes, poetry is necessary, but we ought to make peace in our minds, hearts, homes, villages and towns. Everybody can do it. We have to try this. It isn’t naive! Best wishes to you, Friend. Your photos are always beautiful!


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