Home > Poetry > The Majesty of Sleep
Translated from the Polish by Clare Cavanagh
Published: Mon Oct 15 2001
Eva Lundsager, Were now like (detail), 2021, oil on canvas
The Majesty of Sleep

Sleep like the veranda of a country housespreads before you a forest and shadowsand the interior of memories.eep is the mind free of constraint,_
_ the proud capital of poetry and plays,
sleep is a thought not yet embodied,
fed meagerly by jealous waking.
Sleep is Assyria, severe and valiant.
Sleep is Tuscany seen at dawn,
when slim trees sip ink
from the black earth—and a city,
which breathes through long cigarettes of sorrow.
Sleep visits hospitals and prisons,
comforts the afflicted
like a pure-hearted nun;
sleep wanes, exhausted;
it dies lightly, like Norwid,
without grief or heirs.

See what's inside AGNI 54

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). (updated 6/2010)

Read “Between Athens & Jerusalem: A Conversation with Adam Zagajewski” by Brian Barker and Todd Samuelson in AGNI Online.

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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