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

We know we’re not allowed to use your name.
We know you’re inexpressible,
anemic, frail, and suspect
for mysterious offenses as a child.
We know that you are not allowed to live now
in music or in trees at sunset.
We know—or at least we have been told—
that you do not exist at all, anywhere.
And yet we still keep hearing your weary voice
—in an echo, a complaint, in the letters we receive
from Antigone in the Greek desert.

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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