Two Poems

Between Poems  

Here in this moment before the perfect poem

Capable of explaining everything

I’ll write for you something make-do about the god of love and death

But not for awhile because now I must hold this cat on my lap

Who when it finally wakes up will describe its latest dream

And then as usual will disappear without saying goodbye

To do the same thing it does every day

Leaving behind just a single white whisker

From which I might decipher my own future

 

 

Między wierszami

Zanim powstanie utwór doskonały

Który wszystko wytłumaczy

Napiszę wam na razie wiersz o bogu milości i śmierci

To za chwilę bo teraz trzymam na kolanach kota który

Kiedy się zbudzi opowie mi swój sen

A potem jak zwykle bez pożegnania odejdzie

Do swoich zwykłych codziennych zajęć

Zostawi mi biały wąs z którego

Spróbuję odczytać swoją przyszłość

 

 

It Was

You tell me my friend that it was yesterday

In the room with the blue light from a quiet lamp in the corner

Okudzhava* whispering magic spells from Georgia in our ears

The blind Brandenburg Bach and the deaf Beethoven

Vying with Handel in a holy polyphony

Old marches and waltzes blaring out in brass

Medals swords and sashes blinding all our eyes

A fiery gramophone spitting like a hearth

Wandering the spirals inside a dark galaxy

Mother downing a whole glass in order to keep the heads

Of young lads who too easily hit their amber fifths

Jan cradling an angel inside his evening prayer

His knees cracking open the hard shell of repentance

We were characters of Chagall with hearts of pierogi

Flying on our sides as heaven opened above us in the ceiling

 

*Bulat Okudzhava (Bułat Okudżawa, in Polish)  was born in 1924 in Moscow of Georgian and Armenian parents.  He is probably the most well-known of the Russian guitar-bards of the 20th century, roughly the equivalent of Woody Guthrie, Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen all rolled into one.    That his songs were mainly non-political in their content actually politicized his music, causing the authorities to reluctantly recognize Okudzhava while at the same time increasing his true popularity in the U.S.S.R. and neighboring countries.

 

Było

                              To Antoni

 

Powiadasz że to było wczoraj przyjacielu

W pokoju pod błękitem z lampką cichą w rogu

Bułat szeptał do ucha gruzińskie zaklęcia

Ślepy Bach brandenburski i Beethoven głuchy

Prześcigali się z Händlem w polifonii świętej

Stare marsze i walce huczały w mosiądzu

Medale szpady szarfy raziły nam oczy

Płomienisty gramofon trzaskał jak kominek

Przemierzając spiralę czarnej galaktyki

Matka szklankę wypiła by oszczędzić głowy

Młodzieńców którzy łatwo brali złote kwinty

Jan anioła kołysał w wieczornej modlitwie

Kolanem rozłupywał orzechy pokuty

My postacie z Chagalla z sercami z pieroga

Lecieliśmy na boku pod sufitu niebem

 

Born in Gdańsk in 1953, TADEUSZ DZIEWANOWSKI was involved in Polish street theater as both a writer and performer during the 1970s, and was a co-founder of the Gdansk-area creative group, Tawerna Psychonautow (The Tavern of the Psychonauts) in the 1980s. More recently, he has been a poet and translator from English.  His first book of poetry, Siedemnaście tysięcy małpich ogonów (Seventeen Thousand Monkey Tales), appeared in 2009, and his poetry, reviews and translations from English appear regularly in the major Polish literary journal Topos.  In the U.S., Daniel Bourne’s translations of his poetry have appeared in International Poetry Review and Cerise Press.

Daniel Bourne has recently spent over a half-year living in Poland in order to continue his translation work with Polish poets as well as to pursue some writing projects involving environmental issues and investigations into place, including the primeval forest of Białowieża in eastern Poland and the island of Sobieszewo on the Baltic Coast just to the east of Gdansk.   His books of poetry include The Household Gods (Cleveland State University Press, 1995), Where No One Spoke the Language (CustomWords, 2006) and a collection of translations of the Polish political poet Tomasz Jastrun, On the Crossroads of Asia and Europe (Salmon Run, 1999). He teaches at the College of Wooster, where he edits Artful Dodge. His many trips to Poland include a Fulbright fellowship in 1985-87 for the translation of younger Polish poets. His poems have appeared in such journals as Plume, Ploughshares, FIELD, Guernica, American Poetry Review, Prairie Schooner, Shenandoah, Salmagundi, Tar River Poetry and Seneca Review. His translations of other Polish poets such as Bronisław Maj and Zbigniew Machej appear in FIELD, Boulevard, Mid-American Review, Virginia Quarterly Review, and elsewhere.  Last July, Plume printed as its Special Feature his translations involving another Polish poet, “The Angel’s Share:  Six Poems by Krzysztof Kuczkowski.”

 

 

Issue #35 May 2014
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