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profile/stanislaw-baranczak.md
Translated from the Polish by Clare Cavanagh
Published: Sun Oct 15 2000
Wosene Worke Kosrof, The Inventor V (detail), 2022, acrylic on linen. Courtesy of Sullivan Goss Gallery, Santa Barbara, California
Spirderweb

Translated from the Polish by Clare Cavanagh

 

The spiderweb, symmetrical
death;

_           _is still
a sail stretched from leaf to leaf,
sifting sunrise (let’s wax
poetic),
a thatched roof
straining stars some August night (there’s
no better),
a wintry
pattern (anaesthetic) on the glass;

_                                             _ suddenly:
the splayed hand that slapped your face;
the wheel they broke you on; the rifle
target bearing your hunched shape;
ripples on the water where you drowned;
your solar plexus radiating
pain; the sight on a fighter plane
nosediving the road where you shield
your head with other refugees; a windowpane
meshed with cracks where your eyes had been;

the spiderweb, concentric rings; pain
grows this way; centrifugal rays;
a dead star decays this way; symmetrical death;
harmonious disgrace;
tidy degradation;

you only feel it brush your face.

 

Stanislaw Baranczak (1946–2014) was a Polish poet, literary critic, editor, and translator, as well as, for nearly twenty years until his retirement, a lecturer at Harvard University. He translated, among others, Wislawa Szymborska (with Clare Cavanagh) and Jan Kochanowski (with Seamus Heaney) into English and published more than forty volumes of English poetry in Polish translation.

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. She has written extensively on Russian, Polish, and English poetry and has translated the poetry of Wislawa Szymborska (with Stanislaw Baranczak) and Adam Zagajewski. (2010)

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Stanisław Barańczak (1946–2014) was a Polish poet, literary critic, editor, and translator, as well as, for nearly twenty years until his retirement, a lecturer at Harvard University. He translated, among others, Wislawa Szymborska (with Clare Cavanagh) and Jan Kochanowski (with Seamus Heaney) into English and published more than forty volumes of English poetry in Polish translation.

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. (updated 6/2010)
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