Home > Poetry > Spiderweb
Translated from the Polish by Clare Cavanagh
Published: Sun Oct 15 2000
Diego Isaias Hernández Méndez, Convertiendse en Characoteles / Sorcerers Changing into Their Animal Forms (detail), 2013, oil on canvas. Arte Maya Tz’utujil Collection.
AGNI 52 Illness Nature Violence

The spiderweb, symmetrical

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

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.

See what's inside AGNI 52
by Ulrike Draesner
Translated from the German by Iain Galbraith
Online 2020 Animals Nature Violence
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And a Red Mouth
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The Death of Patience
Online 2012 Animals Nature Violence

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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