Thursday, 18 September 2014

POET OF THE MONTH #20: Anna Świrszczyńska



Our embrace lasted too long.
We loved right down to the bone.
I hear the bones grind, I see
our two skeletons.

Now I am waiting
till you leave, till
the clatter of your shoes
is heard no more.  Now, silence.

Tonight I am going to sleep alone
on the bedclothes of purity.
is the first hygienic measure.
will enlarge the walls of the room,
I will open the window
and the large, frosty air will enter,
healthy as tragedy.
Human thoughts will enter
and human concerns,
misfortune of others, saintliness of others.
They will converse softly and sternly.

Do not come anymore.
I am an animal
very rarely.

from Talking To My Body (1996)

Translated by

The Poet: Anna Świrszczyńska (pronounced 'Swirsh-tinsht-ka') – whose surname was sometimes abbreviated to 'Swir' in the West – was born in the Polish capital Warsaw in 1909.  Her family was artistically minded but poor, obliging her to go to work at an early age in order to help support it.  She continued to work while attending university, where she studied for and eventually gained a degree in Medieval Polish Literature.

During the 1930s she worked as an editor and as secretary to a teacher's association.  It was during this decade that she also began to publish her first, erotically-charged poems.  She joined the Resistance after the Nazis invaded her homeland in September 1939 and worked as a nurse during the bloody and ultimately unsuccessful Warsaw Uprising of August-October 1944.  During this time she was arrested by the Germans and made to wait an hour while they debated whether or not she should be executed.

After the war she moved to Krakow, where she wrote children's plays and stories and served as director of a local children's theatre until her death from cancer in 1984.  She was the winner of the Krzyz Kawalerski Oderu Odrodzenia Polski (1957), the Medal Komisji Edukacji Narodowej and many other prestigious Polish literary awards.

Click HERE to read more poems (in English) by ANNA SWIRSZCZYNSKA at website.

You might also enjoy:
POET OF THE MONTH #9: Julian Tuwim 
POET OF THE MONTH #7: Esther Granek
POET OF THE MONTH #27: Adam Zagajewski

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