Academic journal article Chicago Review

For Jan Polkowski

Academic journal article Chicago Review

For Jan Polkowski

Article excerpt

It's time to shut the little cardboard doors and open a window, to open a window and get some air in this room.

Before, there was always luck to fall back on, now the luck's run out. With one exception:

when poems go and leave their stench behind them. The poetry of slaves lives on ideas,

and ideas are a watery substitute for blood. The heroes remain imprisoned,

and the worker is ugly but touchingly useful-in the poetry of slaves.

In the poetry of slaves the trees have crosses

inside them- under the bark- made of barbed wire. How easy then for the slave to travel the monstrously long and practically impossible road

from the alphabet to God, it lasts only a moment, like spitting -in the poetry of slaves.

Instead of saying: I have a toothache, I'm hungry, I'm lonely, both of us, four of

us, our whole street-they say quietly: Wanda Wasilewska, Cyprian Kamil Norwid,

J6zef Pilsudski, the Ukraine, Lithuania,

Thomas Mann, the Bible, and at the end a little something in Yiddish. …

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