Tag Archives: Polish poet

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).

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

Dziadek do orzechów i inne przedmioty / A Nutcracker and Other Objects


Inanimate objects are always correct and cannot, unfortunately, be reproached with anything […] Zbigniew Herbert (1924-1998) , Polish Poet.

Zbigniew Herbert

Joseph Brodsky, famous Russian poet (the Nobel Prize in Literature 1987) about Zbigniew Herbert:

[…] What kind of poet is Zbigniew Herbert? Is he difficult? Is he hard to follow, hard to scan, impossible to remember? Look at „Pebble,” the first poem of this selection, and decide for yourself.

What kind of poem is this, and what is it all about? About nature, perhaps? Perhaps. I, for one, though, think that if it is about nature, then it is about human nature. About its autonomy, about its resistance, about, if you will, its survival. In this sense it is a very Polish poem, considering that nation’s recent, more exactly, modem, history. And it is a very modern poem, because Polish history, one may say, is modern history in miniature—well, more exactly, in a pebble. Because whether you are a Pole or not, what history wants is to destroy you. The only way to survive, to endure its almost geological pressure, is to acquire the features of a pebble, including the false warmth once you find yourself in somebody’s hands. […]


The pebble
is a perfect creature

equal to itself
mindful of its limits

filled exactly
with a pebbly meaning

with a scent which does not remind one of anything
does not frighten anything away does not arouse desire

its ardour and coldness
are just and full of dignity

I feel a heavy remorse
when I hold it in my hand
and its noble body
is permeated by false warmth

    —Pebbles cannot be tamed
to the end they will look at us
with a calm and very clear eye.

From: The Wilson Quarterly


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Filed under Poetry / Poezja, Tajemnice / Secrets

Kamień / Stone

stone 126In an eastern city where I won’t return
there is a winged stone light and huge
lightning strikes this winged stone […]

W mieście kresowym do którego nie wrócę
jest taki skrzydlaty kamień lekki i ogromny
pioruny biją w ten kamień skrzydlaty […]

Zbigniew Herbert

Polish poet


4 Komentarze

Filed under Poetry / Poezja, Poezja / Poetry, Tajemnice / Secrets, Wielcy Polacy / Great Poles