Anna Swir - Talking to My Body

Rating 7.2

I've never been a great fan of poetry, but - growing older - I began to reconsider my reader's block towards poems.

Thus, I bought a couple of poetry books, found myself interested in the biography of Eugenio Montale and even went to a contemporary poetry reading (although with mixed feelings for what I heard).

A friend of mine foresaw all this a few years ago by prophesing that I would have eventually (re)discovered poetry at the age of 30. It took me two extra years to fulfil my fate, but eventually I got there.

I bow.

Anna Swir (Świrszczyńska)is a fairly well known name in Poland, but try to mention her in a conversation revolving around Polish poets with a pal of yours and I bet they won't be familiar with Mrs Swir.
I didn't know the author, but eventually got rather fond of this collection of nice little poems; for they helped me out with my Polish vocabulary and understanding.

Some compositions of Talking to My Body brought Szymborska's pomets to my mind due to their apparent simplicity wondering on an intimate everyday's life with tiny but meaningful details. Unlike her world famous compatriot, Anna Swir deals quite a lot with post WWII feelings and shows a touching empathy for her father who was a painter with a peculiar character.

Both topics are found in the poem I liked the most here. It's entitled He Did Not Jump from the Third Floor and reads like this in English translation.

The second World War
Tonight they dropped bombs 
on the Theatre Square. 

At the Theatre Square 
Father has his workshop. 
All paintings, labor 
of forty years. 

Next morning father went 
to the Theatre Square. 
He saw. 

His workshop has no ceiling, 
has no walls 
no floor. 

Father did not jump 
from the third floor. 
Father started over 
from the beginning. 

Bless the Nobel laureate Miłosz who translated Swir into English (taking many liberties in metric) as well as the publisher who kept the original Polish text in this edition.
And thank you to the clever second hand bookseller in Krakow who found this little gem for me by rummaging through his shelves when asked if he had anything in English: this book was the one and only!

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