Monday, December 02, 2013

Briefly it will seem as if you're free


Think of bars that cease to exist
the closer you get to them. Before you feel
their coldness, then their obstinacy, briefly it will seem
as if you're free. Think of a keyhole, of the eye
of a peephole that sees everything, or even more.
And think of your own eyelid, of your own soul
lurking just behind the pupil.

— Tadeusz Dąbrowski

Tadeusz Dąbrowski's Black Square, translated by Antonia Lloyd-Jones, is published in a bilingual edition (Polish-English) by Zephyr Press. My copy's inscribed to me by the poet (thanks to my sister, who, at my encouragement, attended a reading of his a couple months ago).

I had a tough time choosing a poem to cite here, so I give you this one because I can do so in its entirety. (Although, I must admit, when I first read this poem, I pictured some drunk someone, maybe me, stumbling along to the next bar, and thinking how tragic that the destination would be always removed and then must be reconsidered, infinitely. In Polish, however, the meaning of "bars," in the iron jailing sense, is quite clear.)

I find these poems beautiful, the sound of them, in English or Polish, and certain phrases transport me, particularly the love poems ("I carried you unintentionally in my arms from a go-/go club straight into my bed and thoroughly/ rubbed you into the bedclothes [...]" — emphasis mine, because, oh).

And I also find myself in smiling agreement ("This is the first line. This line means nothing./ And this is the second line, in which you are no longer you,/ i.e., you're not the person from the first line,/ and now you're not even who you were/ in the second and third, and fourth and on top of that/ the fifth. This poem is life, [...]") but then disagreeing quite passionately, which happens when the poem turns to God (and this one does).

I have loved some poetry, and I have hated some other poetry. Most poetry leaves me indifferent. But this may be my first love-hate relationship with a poet.

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