16 February 2009

Adam Zagajewski

[from Adam Zagajewski's Eternal Enemies, translated by Clare Cavanagh, Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2008]

The Greeks

I would have liked to live among the Greeks,
talk with Sophocles' disciples,
learn the rites of secret mysteries,

but when I was born the pockmarked
Georgian still lived and reigned,
with his grim henchmen and theories.

Those were years of memory and grief,
of sober talks and silence;
there was little joy --

although a few birds didn't know this,
a few children and trees.
To wit, the apple tree on our street

blithely opened its white blooms
each April and burst
into ecstatic laughter.

Eternal Enemies: Poems


  1. Anonymous06:11

    Would you please tell me who does "the pockmarked Georgian "refer to?
    thank you

  2. I assumed Stalin but I didn't check the dates.

  3. Anonymous01:44

    Wonderful poem. Just re-reading some Zagajewski now.