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Poem No. 2 for Poetry Month from the Dame of Polish Poetry

Her late compatriot Czeslaw Milosz called Julia Hartwig “the grande dame of Polish poetry.” Knopf’s poetry series for Poetry Month has more to say: Hartwig, now in her late eighties, belongs to the same generation of Polish poets as Zbigniew Herbert and Wislawa Szymborska. Her voice was shaped by the events of the Second World War and Solidarity, in which she played an active role. Her poems have all the gravitas of the history she has lived through—she tells of the husbands who returned silent from war, of watching regiments with red stars enter her home city of Lublin. But she is also a poet of joy and light, one who craves what is best in both nature and culture and celebrates the small miracles of understanding and happiness, when they come. Hartwig’s work is translated by the distinguished translators from the Polish, John and Bogdana Carpenter.

I must admit I have a thing for Polish poetry, having been introduced to the works of Milosz and Adam Zagajewski. But this is my first time to come across a poem by Hartwig:

Tell Me Why This Hurry

The lindens are blossoming the lindens have lost their blossoms
and this flowery procession moves without any restraint
Where are you hurrying lilies of the valley jasmines
petunias lilacs irises roses and peonies
Mondays and Tuesdays Wednesdays and Fridays
nasturtiums and gladioli zinnias and lobelias
yarrow dill goldenrod and grasses
flowery Mays and Junes and Julys and Augusts
lakes of flowers seas of flowers meadows
holy fires of fern one-day grails
Tell me why this hurry where are you rushing
in a cherry blizzard a deluge of greenness
all with the wind racing in one direction only
crowns proud yesterday today fallen into sand
eternal desires passions mistresses of destruction


Written by Romel

April 10, 2008 at 3:15 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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