Among Many Tasks (Tadeusz Rozewicz)

February 23, 2010

Among many tasks
very urgent
I’ve forgotten that
it’s also necessary
to be dying

I have neglected this obligation
or have been fulfilling it

beginning tomorrow
everything will change
I will start dying assiduously
wisely optimistically
without wasting time

(Trans. from the Polish by Magnus J. Krynski and Robert A. Maguire)


“The dance of poetry” ended, Rozewicz has said, after the concentrations camps. One of the preeminent Polish poets of the last century, Rozewicz’s poetic career has been in many ways a response to the aftermath of World War II. His poems are aesthetically straightforward, with little ornament. He has been called a “poet of silence,” but I don’t really know what that means. I had never thought about dying as a task one takes up, and with urgency. One among many others, it seems, and like so many other failed tasks, one feels compelled to begin over and over.


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