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Without End : New and Selected Poems (02 Edition)


Without End : New and Selected Poems (02 Edition) Cover




Excerpted from Without End by Adam Zagajewski. Copyright © 2002 by Adam Zagajewski. To be published in March, 2003 by Farrar, Straus & Giroux, LLC. All rights reserved.


Oh my mute city, honey-gold, buried in ravines, where wolves loped softly down the cold meridian; if I had to tell you, city, asleep beneath a heap of lifeless leaves, if I needed to describe the ocean's skin, on which ships etch the lines of shining poems, and yachts like peacocks flaunt their lofty sails and the Mediterranean, rapt in salty concentration, and cities with sharp turrets gleaming in the keen morning sun, and the savage strength of jets piercing the clouds, the bureaucrats' undying scorn for us, people, Umbria's narrow streets like cisterns that stop up ancient time tasting of sweet wine, and a certain hill, where the stillest tree is growing, gray Paris, threaded by the river of salvation, Krakow, on Sunday, when even chestnut leaves seem pressed by an unseen iron, vineyards raided by the greedy fall and by highways full of fear; if I had to describe the sobriety of the night when it happened, and the clatter of the train running into nothingness and the blade flaring on a makeshift skating rink; I'm writing from the road, I had to see, and not just know, to see clearly the sights and fires of a single world, but you unmoving city turned to stone, my brethren in the shallow sand; the earth still turns above you and the Roman legions march and a polar fox attends the wind in a white wasteland where sounds perish.


We know we're not allowed to use your name. We know you're inexpressible, anemic, frail, and suspect for mysterious offenses as a child. We know that you are not allowed to live now in music or in trees at sunset. We know—or at least we've been told— that you do not exist at all, anywhere. And yet we still keep hearing your weary voice —in an echo, a complaint, in the letters we receive from Antigone in the Greek desert.


At first only cherries and the comic flight of bats, the apple moon, a drowsy owl, the tang of 0icy water on school outings. The city's towers rise like words of love. Afterwards, long after, Provence's golden dust, fig trees in the vineyards, the lesson of white Greece, obscure museums, Piero's Madonna great with child —in the interim, two occupations, two inhuman armies, death's clumsy vehicles patrol your streets.

Long days spent translating Georg Trakl, "The Captive Blackbird's Song," that blissful first Paris after years of Soviet scarcity and squalor; your sly smile, your schoolboy jokes, the gravitas and cheer you brought to Meaux's little cathedral (Bossuet watched us rather dourly), Berlin evenings: Herr Doktor, Herr Privatdozent, the rice you scattered at friends' weddings like confetti— but the quiet bitterness of bad months, too.

I liked to imagine your strolls in Umbria, Liguria: your dapper chase, your quest for places where the glaciers of the past melt, baring forms. I liked to imagine you roving through poetry's mountains, seeking the spot where silence suddenly erupts in speech. But I always met you in the cramped apartments of those gray Molochs called great cities.

You sometimes reminded me of life's tragedies. Life seldom let you out of sight. I think of your generation, crushed by fate, your illness in Madrid, in Amsterdam (Hotel Ambassade), even in holy Jerusalem, the hospital Saint-Louis, where you lay one summer with heat melting houses' walls and nations' borders, and your final weeks in Warsaw. I marvel at your poems' kingly pride.


The early hours of morning; you still aren't writing (rather, you aren't even trying), you just read lazily. Everything is idle, quiet, full, as if it were a gift from the muse of sluggishness,

just as earlier, in childhood, on vacation, when a colored map was slowly scrutinized before a trip, a map promising so much, deep ponds in the forest like glittering butterfly eyes, mountain meadows drowning in sharp grass;

or the moment before sleep, when no dreams have appeared, but they whisper their approach from all parts of the world, their march, their pilgrimage, their vigil at the sickbed (grown sick of wakefulness), and the quickening among medieval figures

compressed in endless stasis over the cathedral; the early hours of morning, silence —you still aren't writing,

you still understand so much. Joy is close.

Product Details

Williams, C. K.
Gorczynski, Renata
Cavanagh, Clare
Gorczynski, Renata
Szymborska, Wislawa
Baranczak, Stanislaw
Zagajewski, Adam
Cavanagh, Clare
Farrar Straus Giroux
New York
Continental european
Single Author - Continental European
Zagajewski, Adam
Anthologies-Miscellaneous International Poetry
Edition Number:
1st paperback ed.
Edition Description:
Trade Paper
Series Volume:
Publication Date:
Grade Level:
8 x 5 in 0.24 lb

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Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Anthologies » Miscellaneous International Poetry
Fiction and Poetry » Poetry » A to Z

Without End : New and Selected Poems (02 Edition) Used Trade Paper
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Product details 96 pages Farrar Straus Giroux - English 9780374528614 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by , A collection of poems from Nobel Prize-winner Szymborska.
"Synopsis" by , An exciting collection of poems by Wislawa Szymborska. When Here was published in Poland, reviewers marveled, “How is it that she keeps getting better?” These twenty-seven poems, as rendered by prize-winning translators Clare Cavanagh and Stanislaw Baranczak, are among her greatest ever. Whether writing about her teenage self, microscopic creatures, or the upsides to living on Earth, she remains a virtuoso of form, line, and thought.

From the title poem:

I cant speak for elsewhere,

but here on Earth weve got a fair supply of everything.

Here we manufacture chairs and sorrows,

scissors, tenderness, transistors, violins, teacups, dams, and quips . . .

Like nowhere else, or almost nowhere,

youre given your own torso here,

equipped with the accessories required

for adding your own children to the rest.

Not to mention arms, legs, and astonished head.

"Synopsis" by ,
The best work of one of Poland's greatest younger poets

I love to swim in the sea, which keeps

talking to itself

in the monotone of a vagabond

who no longer recalls

exactly how long he's been on the road.

Swimming is like prayer:

palms join and part,

join and part

almost without end.

--from "On Swimming"

This selection draws from Adam Zagajewski's English-language collections, both in and out of print; it also includes work from his early books, Communiqué and Butcher Shop, as well as new poems that are among Zagajewski's most refreshing and rewarding: meditations on human frailty and vigor, they are vividly imagined, of great clarity of thought and scrupulous attention to the natural world. In Clare Cavanagh's lucid, graceful translations these poems share the vocation that allows us, in Zagajewski's words, "to experience astonishment and to stop still in that astonishment for a long moment or two."

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