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Smoke
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Published: Sun Apr 15 2001
Night reading mode 

Smoke

Translated from the Polish by Clare Cavanagh

 

Too many elegies. Too much memory.
The scent of hay and a white heron
flies uncertainly across a field.
We know how to hide the dead.
We don’t want to kill them.
But potent moments of light
elude our spells.
My room is heaped with dreams
piled high like rugs
inside a stuffy oriental shop
and there is no room now for new poems.
The roe-deer won’t take flight,
she tries to prophesy.
No one pays homage to the gods.
An angry prayer is stronger.
Linden flowers, an open wound.
Smoke rises over low-lying towns
and peace enters our homes;
our homes fill with wholeness.

 

Adam Zagajewski is a Polish poet. He has published over 20 books of poetry and essays, many of which have been translated into other languages. Recent translations of his work into English include A Defense of Ardor: Essays (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux 2005) and Eternal Enemies: Poems (FSG 2009). (2010)

Clare Cavanagh is a specialist in modern Russian and Polish poetry. She has won numerous awards for her translation of Polish poetry and is currently working on a biography of the poet Czesław Miłosz. (2010)

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