Tuesday, July 27, 2010

A brief reprieve from the heat has allowed us to catch up a bit on things that required movement - housework, gardening, that kind of thing - as well as anything that involved clutching wool. It was so hard to find myself sitting at home without anything scheduled and unable to do the things that such a circumstance would normally allow.

Busyness. Laziness. Flip sides of the same coin? Or the same side of the same coin?

Here are two poems I discovered in our enforced stillness. They are by a Polish poet named Tadeusz Różewicz

The Gate

Lasciate ogni speranza
Voi ch'entrate

abandon all hope
ye who enter here

the inscription at the entrance to the inferno
of Dante's Divine Comedy


behind that gate
there is no hell

hell has been dismantled
by theologians
and deep psychologists

converted into allegory
for humanitarian and educational

behind that gate
the same thing begins again

two drunken grave-diggers
sit at the edge of a hole

they're drinking non-alcoholic beer
and munching on sausage
winking at us
under the cross
they play soccer
with Adam's skull

the hole awaits
tomorrow's corpse
the "stiff" is on its way


here we will await
the final judgment

water gathers in the hole
cigarette butts are floating in it


behind that gate
there will neither be history
nor goodness nor poetry

and what will there be
dear stranger?

there will be stones

upon stone
stone upon stone
and on that stone
one more

Translated by Joanna Trzeciak

Busy With Many Jobs

Busy with many jobs
I forgot
one also has
to die

I kept neglecting that duty
or performed it perfunctorily

as from tomorrow
things will be different

I'll start dying meticulously
wisely optimistically
without wasting time

Polish/English translator Adam Czerniawski

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