Adam Zagajewski is a Polish poet and the author of 
twelve volumes of verse, seven of which have been translated into English. His new book, Slight Exaggeration: An Essay, was ­published in April. (May 2017)

IN THE REVIEW

The Triumph of Mrs. L.

Photograph by Josef Sudek from his ‘Glass Labyrinths’ series, 1963–1972
In our modest Silesian town after the war, a certain lady, an acquaintance of my parents, composed musical works, which she then sent to eminent personages, to the pope, the queen of England, the president of the United States, the president of France. The works were never performed, but all …

Some Advice for the New Government

We have a new government. Our new government includes many gifted ministers. One of our ministers speaks English. Our new government has set to work energetically. Unfortunately, it is less than aggressive in a situation permitting so many unregenerate liberals to persist: in some cities they even outnumber traditional Catholic …

Ruth

In memory of Ruth Buczyńska She survived the war in Tarnopol. In darkness and semi-darkness. In fear. She was afraid of rats and heavy boots, loud conversations, screams. She died just now, in darkness, in a hospital ward’s white quiet. She was a Jew. Sometimes she didn’t …

Two Poems by Adam Zagajewski

SELF-PORTRAIT IN A LITTLE MUSEUM A swarthy Christ watched me from small trecento paintings; I didn’t understand his gaze, but I wanted to open up before it. A rapt, darked-haired Christ, unswervingly attentive, bounded by Byzantium’s gold frame, watched me while my …

Was it

Was it worth waiting in consulates for some clerk’s fleeting good humor and waiting at the station for a late train, seeing Etna in its Japanese cloak and Paris at dawn, as Haussmann’s conventional caryatids came looming from the dark, entering cheap restaurants …

Subject: Brodsky

Please note: born in May, in a damp city (hence the motif: water), soon to be surrounded by an army whose officers kept Hölderlin in their knapsacks, but alas, they had no time for reading. Too much to do.   Tone—sardonic, despair—authentic.