Anna Swir

Books containing poems by Anna Swir

Poems featured on The Gladdest Thing

The Sea and the Man

You will not tame this sea
either by humility or rapture.
But you can laugh
in its face.

Laughter
was invented by those
who live briefly
as a burst of laughter.

The eternal sea
will never learn to laugh.

— Anna Swir

Translated from the Polish by Cszlaw Milosz and Leonard Nathan

end

The First Madrigal

That night of love was pure
as an antique musical instrument
and the air around it.

Rich
as a ceremony of coronation.
It was fleshy as a belly of a woman in labor
and spiritual
as a number.

It was only a moment of life
and it wanted to be a conclusion drawn from life.
By dying
it wanted to comprehend the principle of the world.

That night of love
had ambitions.

— Anna Swir 

end

Four Very Fat Legs

I am jolly as if I were
very fat.
As if I had four
very fat legs. As if I jumped very high
on my four very fat legs.
As if I barked
cheerfully and very loudly
with those four very fat legs.
That’s how jolly I am today.

— Anna Swir 

end

There is a Light in Me

Whether in daytime or in nighttime
I always carry inside
a light.
In the middle of noise and turmoil
I carry silence.
Always
I carry light and silence.

— Anna Swir 

end

Tell Me

Tell me, my dearest
now when I listen
to your heart beating,
when I drink from a little spring of warmth
in your neck,
when I look into you
as if you were transparent,
and see every thought of yours
and know
that you would die for me
were it necessary,
tell me now
whether we are the happiest
of all people
or the most unhappy.

— Anna Swir

end

Myself and My Person

There are moments
when I feel more clearly than ever
that I am in the company
of my own person.
This comforts and reassures me,
this heartens me,
just as my tridimensional body
is heartened by my own authentic shadow.

There are moments
when I really feel more clearly than ever
that I am in the company
of my own person.

I stop
at a street corner to turn left
and I wonder what would happen
if my own person walked to the right.

Until now that has not happened
but it does not settle the question.

— Anna Swir

end

A Woman Writer Does Laundry

Enough typing.
Today I am doing laundry
in the old style.
I wash, I wash, rinse, wring
as did my grandmothers and great-grandmothers.
Relaxation.

Doing laundry is healthful and useful
like a washed shirt. Writing
is suspect.
Like three interrogation marks
typed on a page.

— Anna Swir
translated from the Polish by Czeslaw Milosz and Leonard Nathan

end

I Talk To My Body

My body, you are an animal
whose appropriate behavior
is concentration and discipline.
An effort
of an athlete, of a saint and of a yogi.

Well trained,
you may become for me
a gate
through which I will leave myself
and a gate
through which I will enter myself.
A plumb line to the center of the earth
and a cosmic ship to Jupiter.

My body, you are an animal
for whom ambition
is right.
Splendid possibilities
are open to us.

— Anna Swir
Translated from the Polish by Czeslaw Milosz and Leonard Nathan

end

Thank You, My Fate

Great humility fills me,
great purity fills me,
I make love with my dear
as if I made love dying
as if I made love praying,
tears pour
over my arms and his arms.
I don’t know whether this is joy
or sadness, I don’t understand
what I feel, I’m crying,
I’m crying, it’s humility
as if I were dead,
gratitude, I thank you, my fate,
I’m unworthy, how beautiful
my life.

— Anna Swir
Translated from the Polish by Czeslaw Milosz and Leonard Nathan

end

The Second Madrigal

A night of love
exquisite as a
concert from old Venice
played on exquisite instruments.
Healthy as a
buttock of a little angel.
Wise as an
anthill.
Garish as air
blown into a trumpet.
Abundant as the reign
of a royal Negro couple
seated on two thrones
cast in gold.

A night of love with you,
a big baroque battle
and two victories.

— Anna Swir
Translated from the Polish by Czeslaw Milosz and Leonard Nathan

end

The Greatest Love

She is sixty. She lives
the greatest love of her life.

She walks arm-in-arm with her dear one,
her hair streams in the wind.
Her dear one says:
“You have hair like pearls.”

Her children say:
“Old fool.”

— Anna Swir
Translated from the Polish by Czeslaw Milosz and Leonard Nathan

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