the curtain fluttered...

from my anthology of must read (a)merican poems

Adam Zagajewski

Try to Praise the Mutilated World

         (Trans. Clare Cavanagh)

Try to praise the mutilated world.
Remember June’s long days,
and wild strawberries, drops of wine, the dew.
The nettles that methodically overgrow
the abandoned homesteads of exiles.
You must praise the mutilated world.
You watched the stylish yachts and ships;
one of them had a long trip ahead of it,
while salty oblivion awaited others.
You’ve seen the refugees heading nowhere,
You’ve heard the executioners sing joyfully.
You should praise the mutilated world.
Remember the moments when we were together
in a white room and the curtain fluttered.
Return in thought to the concert where music flared.
You gathered acorns in the park in autumn
and leaves eddied over the earth's scars.
Praise the mutilated world
and the gray feathers a thrush lost,
and the gentle light that strays and vanishes
and returns.


Zagajewski’s poem, appearing in The New Yorker the week following the 9/11 disaster, is universal in its voice that speaks to all tragedies.

In a 2004 issue of Poets & Writers, Zagajewski states that poetry is one way to find restoration – or at least a part of it:

So poetry as literature, as language, discovers within the world a layer that has existed unobserved in reality, and by doing so changes something in our life, expands somewhat the space of what we are. So yes, it has the power to restore the mutilated world, even if no statistics ever show it.

On a day such as this – a day following the terrible news from Virginia Tech – I find a certain comfort, understanding, and expression in “Try to Praise the Mutilated World” that I need. A different sort of beauty. A different sort of hope.


Dennis said...

Sam - an excellent selection in view of current events. Much is invited by this.

ezb said...

When everything is charcoal like it was yesterday, reading something like that gives wisdom when there is no rationale.

Sam of the ten thousand things said...

Thanks Dennis and Emilie for the read. - when everyhting is charcoal is absolutely accurate, ezb.