Autumn

By Adam Zagajewski b. 1945 Adam Zagajewski

Translated By Renata Gorczynski

Autumn is always too early.
The peonies are still blooming, bees   
are still working out ideal states,
and the cold bayonets of autumn   
suddenly glint in the fields and the wind
rages.

What is its origin? Why should it destroy   
dreams, arbors, memories?
The alien enters the hushed woods,   
anger advancing, insinuating plague;   
woodsmoke, the raucous howls
of Tatars.

Autumn rips away leaves, names,   
fruit, it covers the borders and paths,   
extinguishes lamps and tapers; young   
autumn, lips purpled, embraces   
mortal creatures, stealing
their existence.

Sap flows, sacrificed blood,
wine, oil, wild rivers,
yellow rivers swollen with corpses,
the curse flowing on: mud, lava, avalanche,   
gush.

Breathless autumn, racing, blue
knives glinting in her glance.
She scythes names like herbs with her keen   
sickle, merciless in her blaze
and her breath. Anonymous letter, terror,   
Red Army.

Adam Zagajewski, “Autumn,” translated by Renata Gorczynski, from Without End: New and Selected Poems. Copyright © 2002 by Adam Zagajewski. Used by permission of Farrar, Straus & Giroux, LLC, www.fsgbooks.com. All rights reserved. Caution: Users are warned that this work is protected under copyright laws and downloading is strictly prohibited. The right to reproduce or transfer the work via any medium must be secured with Farrar, Straus and Giroux, LLC.

Source: Selected Poems (Farrar Straus and Giroux, 2004)

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Poet Adam Zagajewski b. 1945

POET’S REGION Poland

Subjects Nature, Fall

Poetic Terms Free Verse

 Adam  Zagajewski

Biography

Adam Zagajewski was born in Lvov, Poland, in 1945; as an infant he was relocated with his family to western Poland. He lived in Berlin for a couple of years, moved to France in 1982, and has taught at universities in the United States, including the University of Houston and the University of Chicago. Zagajewski writes in Polish; many of his books of poetry and essays have been translated into English.

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Nature, Fall

POET’S REGION Poland

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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