Saturday, April 29, 2006

Stanislaw Baranczak (poem)

THE THREE MAGI

To Leo Dymarski

A grim modern version of the visit of the Magi [during Communist rule in Poland]. –Helen Vendler

They will probably come just after the New Year.
As usual, early in the morning.
The forceps of the doorbell will pull you out by the head
from under the bedclothes; dazed as a newborn baby,
you’ll open the door. The star of an ID
will flash before your eyes.
Three men. In one of them you’ll recognize
with sheepish amazement (isn’t this a small
world) your schoolmate of years ago.
Since that time he’ll hardly have changed,
only grown a moustache,
perhaps gained a little weight.
They’ll enter. The gold of their watches will glitter (isn’t
this a gray dawn), the smoke from their cigarettes
will fill the room with a fragrance like incense.
All that’s missing is myrrh, you’ll think half-unconsciously–
while with your heel you’re shoving under the couch the book they
mustn’t find–
what is this myrrh, anyway,
you’d have to finally look it up
someday. You’ll come
with us, sir. You’ll go
with them. Isn’t this a white snow.
Isn’t this a black Fiat.
Wasn’t this a vast world.

From Spoiling Cannibals' Fun, Polish Poetry of the Last Two Decades of Communist Rule; Northwestern University Press; 1991

2 comments:

St Antonym said...

What a wonderful sad poem. It's new to me.

(His name's Baranczak by the way- you might want to correct that spelling).

How is it that there are so many, many first-rank poems by 20th century Polish poets? Through them, suffering has enlarged the territory of the word.

Thanks, as always, for an inspired choice.

VNTuongLai said...

__ You’re invited to view my latest video “684”__ a collection of some short poems. ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1QQVtsjdiDw )