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Friday, November 7, 2008

THE GREEN INTEGER REVIEW Nos. 11-16 (Cyprian Norwid)


Cyprian Norwid

XCV
NERWY


Bylem wczora w miejscu, gdzie mra z glodu –
Trumienne izb ogladalem wnetrze;
Noga powinela mi sie u schodu,
Na nieobrachowanym pietrze!

Musial to byc cud – cud to byl,
Ze chwycilem sie belki sprochnialej...
(A gwozdz w niej tkwil,
Jak w ramionach krzyza!...) – uszedlem
caly! -
Lecz unioslem, pol serca – nie wiecej -
Wesolosci?... zaledwo slad!
Pominalem tlum, jak targ bydlecy;
Obmierzl mi swiat...

Musze dzis pojsc do Pani Baronowej,
Ktora przyjmuje bardzo pieknie,
Siedzac na kanapce atlasowej –
Coz? powiem jej...

... Zwierciadlo peknie,
Kandelabry sie skrzywia na realizm,
I wymalowane papugi
Na plafonie – jak dlugi –
Z dzioba w dzob zawolaja: „Socjalizm!”

Dlatego usiade z kapeluszem
W reku –- a potem go postawie
I wroce milczacym faryzeuszem
- Po zabawie.






XCV
NERVES


Yesterday I went to a place where they die of hunger –
Coffin-like chambers to behold;
My foot tripped over a stair,
On an unaccounted floor.

It had to be a miracle – a miracle indeed,
That I grabbed a rotten beam…
(A nail was there, like in the arms
Of the cross…) – I escaped unharmed! -

But I carried off, half a heart – no more -
Of mirth?... merely a trace!
I by-passed, like a cattle mart, a horde;
I’m sick of world’s disgrace…

Today I must visit the Baroness,
Who beautifully entertains,
Sitting on a satin chaise longue -
What? I’ll tell her…
… A mirror will crack,
Candelabras make a wry face at realism,
And painted parrots
On the plafond – as it is long –
From beak to beak will cry: “Socialism!”

Therefore – I’ll sit, hat in hand
Then set it down – and home return
Like a taciturn Pharisee
- When the party’s done.


-trans. Danuta Borchardt







XIII
LARWA


Na sliskim bruku w Londynie,
W mgle - podksiezycowej, bialej -
Niejedna postac cie minie,
Lecz ty ja wspomnisz, struchlaly.

Czolo ma w cierniu? czy w brudzie?
Rozeznac tego nie mozna;
Poszepty z Niebem o cudzie
W wargach... czy? piana bezbozna!...

Rzeklbys, ze to Biblii ksiega
Zataczajaca sie w blocie -
Po ktora nikt juz nie siega,
Iz nie czas myslec o cnocie!...

Rozpacz i pieniadz – dwa slowa –
Lyskaja bielmem jej zrenic.
Skad idzie?... sobie to chowa.
Gdzie idzie?... zapewne - gdzie nic!

Takiej to podobna jedzy
Ludzkosc, co placze dzis i drwi;
- Jak historia?... wie tylko: „krwi!...”
Jak spolecznosc?... - tylko: „pieniedzy!...”

Londyn 1854



XIII
LARVA*


On slippery London pavement
In fog, sub-lunar, white -
Many a creature will pass by,
You’ll remember her, terrified.

Her brow in thorns? or filth?
With certainty one cannot tell:
Are these whispers of miracles
On her lips… or? spume from hell?...

You’d say, that book’s the Bible
Rolling thus in slime -
No one ever reaches for it,
Nor is it - virtue’s time!...

Despair and money - two words -
Flash in her web-covered eyes,
Whence comes she?... only she knows,
Where goes she?... where nothing is!

Such is Mankind - a witch-like crud
That weeps today and finds things funny;
-Its history?... knows only: “blood!...”
Its institutions?... only: “money!...”

London, 1854
-Trans. by Danuta Borchardt


*This relates to larva in Latin: specter, mask, but also to something evolving as in biological larva.

Born in 1821, Norwid is considered one of the major Polish poets of the 19th century, a poet of the second generation of Romantics. After a tragic life, he died in Paris in 1883.

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