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Try to Praise the Mutilated World

Try to praise the mutilated world.
Remember June's long days,
and wild strawberries, drops of rosé wine.
The nettles that methodically overgrow
the abandoned homesteads of exiles.
You must praise the mutilated world.
You watched the stylish yachts and ships;
one of them had a long trip ahead of it,
while salty oblivion awaited others.
You've seen the refugees going nowhere,
you've heard the executioners sing joyfully.
You should praise the mutilated world.
Remember the moments when we were together
in a white room and the curtain fluttered.
Return in thought to the concert where music flared.
You gathered acorns in the park in autumn
and leaves eddied over the earth's scars.
Praise the mutilated world
and the gray feather a thrush lost,
and the gentle light that strays and vanishes
and returns.

By Adam Zagajewski, translated by Clare Cavanagh, Selected Poems (Faber).



We were saddened to hear that the Polish poet Adam Zagajewski passed away aged 75 last weekend. Born in 1945 in Lvov, Adam Zagajewski was widely considered one of the most important contemporary European poets. He published his first poem in 1967 and co-founded Teraz, a poetry group which denounced police violence and government anti-Semitism. In his 1974 manifesto for this New Wave of avant garde poets Zagajewski urged his generation to “speak the truth you serve.” In 1984 Zagajewski went into exile in Paris, where his poetry gained international recognition. He later taught at the University of Houston and the University of Chicago before returning to live in Krakow in 2002. He published several English poetry collections including  Faber's Selected Poems, compiled by the author himself. Vividly attentive to the world, these lucid translations allow us, in Zagajewski's words, "to experience astonishment and to stop still in that astonishment for a long moment or two". 

Order Selected Poems here with 25% off for PBS Members. Please note this is a print on demand title so it will take a few weeks to reach you.


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