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Poetry From the September 2011 issue: Homage


Adjectival Poem

Wiersz przymiotnikowy

Amazing spring, warm, humid
and full of backlit trees
in various colors, even if it’s still unclear
which ones, except for the rhododendron, which one way or another
stays in shape, though it’s just a bush,
and the unfurling leaves of the maple.
And the greenery in the flowerbeds, which is green
even at night. “Also in the dark?”
Also in the dark. Amazing,
silly, and even in such dark moments lucid
days, because for starters, days, and nights,
because of nights. Not at all, I’ve had nowhere near enough.
Though of course at home the lilac’s roots
slowly snake their way toward your head,
and the lilacs already begin to bloom and fall
on account of the sun, also at the head.
The humidity dries or seeps in, and the sun
shines now on the lids of garbage cans
and snouts of wells, but clearly only by day.
It’s foolish to talk and talk without stopping,
without, at bottom, having anything to say,
at most only on the surface, to see.
It’s silly to talk your ear off
(amazing, that this came into your head).

Translation of "Wiersz przymiotnikowy." Copyright Piotr Sommer. By arrangement with the author. Translation copyright 2011 by W. Martin and Christian Hawkey. All rights reserved.

Zdumiewająca wiosna, ciepła, wilgotna
i pełna podświetlonych drzew
w różnych kolorach, choć nie wiadomo jeszcze
jakich, poza rododendronem, co tak czy owak
trzyma fason, ale to tylko krzak,
i wykluwającymi się listkami klonu.
No i zielenią w klombach, co jest zielona
nawet w nocy. „Po ciemku też?”
Po ciemku też. Zdumiewające,
głupie i przejrzyste w takiej ciemnej chwili
dni, bo jednak na początek dni, i noce,
bo i noce. No skądże, wcale nie mam dość.
Choć oczywiście w domu korzenie bzu
powoli pełzną w stronę twojej głowy
a kwiaty bzu już zaczynają kwitnąć i opadać
z powodu słońca, też od strony głowy.
Wilgoć wysycha albo wsiąka i słońce
błyszczy sobie teraz na pokrywach od śmietników
i pyskach studni, ale rzecz jasna tylko w dzień.
To niepoważne bez ustanku mówić, mówić,
nie mając w gruncie rzeczy nic do powiedzenia
a co najwyżej na powierzchni, do zobaczenia.
To głupie, dać zagadać się na śmierć
(zdumiewające, że to przyszło ci do głowy).




Piotr SommerPiotr Sommer

Piotr Sommer (b. 1948) is the author of twelve books of poetry, including Czynnik liryczny (1986, Lyric Factor), Nowe stosunki wyrazów (1997, New Relations of Words),  Rano na ziemi (2009, Morning on Earth), Dni i noce (2009, Days and Nights), and Wiersze ze słów (2009, Poems from Words). He has also published two books of essays, Smak detalu (1995, A Taste for Detail) and Po stykach (2005, Contact Lines), as well as many translations from contemporary American, English and Irish poetry (John Ashbery, John Berryman, John Cage, D.J. Enright, Kenneth Koch, Michael Longley, Frank O’Hara, Charles Reznikoff, David Schubert, James Schuyler). Przed snem (2008, Before Sleep) is his book of poems for children, and Ucieczka w bok. Pytania i odpowiedzi (2010, Escaping Aside: Questions and Answers) is a book of selected interviews. His poems have been translated into many languages, and his collections have appeared in English, German, Slovak, and Slovene. His many prizes include the Silesius Poetry Prize (2010). His most recent book in English is Continued (2005).

photo: Robert Wiącek

Translated from PolishPolish by W. MartinW. Martin and by Christian HawkeyChristian Hawkey

W. Martin is the translator of MichaƂ Witkowski's Lovetown (Portobello, 2010), Erich Kästner's Emil and the Detectives (Overlook, 2007), and Natasza Goerke's Farewells to Plasma (Twisted Spoon, 2002), among other things. He is a former Fiction Editor of Chicago Review and a 2008 recipient of the NEA Literature Fellowship for Translation.

Christian Hawkey is a poet and translator. He is the author of Petitions for an Alien Relative (a chapbook by hand held editions, 2010); Ventrakl (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2010); Citizen Of (Wave Books, 2007); Hour, Hour, a chapbook which includes drawings by the artist Ryan Mrowzowski (Delirium Press, 2006); and The Book of Funnels (Verse Press, 2004), winner of the 2006 Kate Tufts Discovery Award. In 2006 he was given a Creative Capital Innovative Literature Award, and he has also received awards from the Poetry Fund and the Academy of American Poets. He teaches at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York.