Bronislaw Maj



Going On

Fourteen All Souls' in this city: already
I have my graves here: Ela, Piotr, Leszek,
Janusz, Staszek, Gwizdek - all
younger than me. Now I can safely
think of their lives: they're finished
and full, perfect just like a ripe
fruit full of juice. Unattainably beautiful
for those who like me - slovenly,
chaotic, from day to day - go on

Left Over

It passes - without sentiment and metaphysics.
I cut across the Rynek. On Szpitalna Street
glum workers, drunk from the morning,
lazily wreck an old town house, left over
from Polish days. The brick dust sinks in the mud
on the street. It's December, Tuesday, not long till
the holidays.

No one, everyone

No one wants my words
of love, no one needs words
of hate, of the inexhaustible miracle
of the world, no one. November wind, leafless
and loveless, passes relentless through the sleepless
city; they all listen, now it

Do I have a right?

Do I have a right to search through
time? through lost time? If so,
since when? My train thuds
over the crossings, I stand by the window
with my face in the damp wind: I see
drowsy towns emerge suddenly and -
and vanish as fast as if they'd
never been. O how much longer the fields last
in the sun, swarming with men and beasts
(August is harvest time in my country). This
palpable passing of full and independent forms
of life, do I - now do I have a right? Like
everyone who has just seen things
which will never now be his: a life
subject to the year's four seasons, to the uncurbed
seasons of the heart, to the Sundays
of a small town.

Translated by Katarzyna Kietlinska and David Malcolm. Katarzyna Kietlinska teaches composition at Oakland University. David Malcom is Professor of English at Olivet College and at the University of Gdansk. The originals of "Going On" ("Nadal"), "Left Over" ("Jeszcze"), "No one, everyone" ("Nikt, wszyscy") can be found in Bronislaw Maj, Zmeczenie [Krakow: Znak 1986]. The original of "Do I have a right?" ["Czy mam prawo?"] can be found in Bronislaw Maj, Wiersze (Warsaw: Mlodziezowa Agencja Wydawnicza 1980).


A leaf

A leaf, one of the last, parts from a maple branch:
it is spinning in the transparent air of October, falls
on a heap of others, stops, fades. No one
admired its entrancing struggle with the wind,
followed its flight, no one will distinguish it now
as it lies among the other leaves, no one saw what I did. I am
the only one.