In Translation: Wind // Wiatr

Tomasz Różycki. Photo by Slav Zatoka.

This poem is from Polish poet Tomasz Różycki’s collection, Litery, a cycle of 99 linked poems. Translated by Mira Rosenthal, the original Polish follows the English translation.


Thanks for the years, the ten most beautiful
that possibly could happen here, if looked at
from somewhere up above, an airborne satellite’s
perspective—still the same old Eastern Europe,

best place to disappear, one generation
after the next, leaving behind so many
town squares in ruins, partial archives, shoes
scattered about, stray combs and hair, hair

everywhere, broken reading glasses and
prosthetic limbs, now useless, cartons, crates, suitcases,
handbags, attachés, empty cans and vials,
boxes and nothing left to put in them,

that carry nothing but air, an ocean
of air that, if released in a single
moment, would form a wind so great, we’d be
blown away above the trees, above the roof tops.


Dzięki za te dziesięć lat, może najpiękniejszych,
jakie się tu mogą przytrafić, jeśli spojrzeć
na to troszeczkę z góry, z perspektywy lotnej
satelity – to przecież wciąż ta sama Wschodnia

Europa, najlepsze miejsce, w którym się znika
pokolenie za pokoleniem, zostawiając tyle
po sobie placów w gruzach, niepełnych archiwów,
porozrzucanych butów, bezpańskich grzebieni,

i włosów, tyle włosów, zbitych okularów,
niepotrzebnych protez, skrzynek, kufrów, waliz,
neseserów, torebek, pustych puszek, fiolek,
pudełek, do których nie ma już czego włożyć,

które nie niosą niczego, poza powietrzem,
oceanem powietrza. Jeśli by wypuścić
je całe w jednej chwili, powstałby wielki wiatr,
tak wielki, że porwałby nas nad drzewa, nad dach.

About the Author

Tomasz Różycki is the author of ten volumes of poetry and prose, most recently Litery. Over the last decade he has garnered almost every prize Poland has to offer as well as widespread critical acclaim, with work translated into numerous languages and frequent appearances at international festivals. In the US, he has been featured at the 92nd St. Y’s Unterberg Poetry Center, the Princeton Poetry Festival, and the Brooklyn Book Festival. His volume Colonies (translated by Mira Rosenthal) won the Northern California Book Award and was a finalist for numerous other prizes, including the International Griffin Poetry Prize and the Oxford-Weidenfeld Translation Prize. He teaches French language, culture, and literature at the University of Opole.

About the Translator

Mira Rosenthal 250w.jpgPoet and translator Mira Rosenthal is a past fellow of the National Endowment for the Arts and Stanford University’s Stegner Program, and her work appears regularly in such journals as Poetry, Ploughshares, Threepenny Review, Guernica, Harvard Review, New England Review, and A Public Space. Her first book of poems, The Local World, received the Wick Poetry Prize. Her honors include a PEN/Heim Translation Fund Award, a Fulbright Fellowship, a grant from the American Council of Learned Societies, and residencies at Hedgebrook and The MacDowell Colony. She teaches creative writing and contemporary literature at Cal Poly University.

Appears In

Issue 7

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