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Reading Milosz

Adam Zagajewski, translated from the Polish by Clare Cavanagh

I read your poetry once more,
poems written by a rich man, understanding all,
and by a pauper, homeless,
an emigrant, alone.

You always want to say more
than we can, to transcend poetry, take flight,
but also to descend, to penetrate the place
where our timid, modest realm begins.

Your voice at times
persuades us,
if only for a moment,
that every day is holy

and that poetry, how to put it,
rounds our life,
completes it, makes it proud
and unafraid of perfect form.

I lay the book aside
at night and only then
the city’s normal tumult starts again,
somebody coughs or cries, somebody curses.

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