I’ll Open the Window

By Anna Swir 1909–1984 Anna Swir
Our embrace lasted too long.
We loved right down to the bone.   
I hear the bones grind, I see   
our two skeletons.

Now I am waiting
till you leave, till
the clatter of your shoes
is heard no more. Now, silence.

Tonight I am going to sleep alone   
on the bedclothes of purity.
is the first hygienic measure.   
will enlarge the walls of the room,   
I will open the window
and the large, frosty air will enter,   
healthy as tragedy.
Human thoughts will enter
and human concerns,
misfortune of others, saintliness of others.   
They will converse softly and sternly.

Do not come anymore.   
I am an animal   
very rarely.

Anna Swir, “I’ll Open the Window” from Talking to My Body, translated by Czeslaw Milosz and Leonard Nathan. Copyright © 1996 by Czeslaw Milosz and Leonard Nathan. Used by permission of Copper Canyon Press, www.coppercanyonpress.org.

Source: Talking to My Body (1996)

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Poet Anna Swir 1909–1984


Subjects Relationships, Living, Love, Separation & Divorce, Desire

Poetic Terms Free Verse


Anna Swir (Świrszczyńska) was born in Warsaw, Poland, to an artistic though impoverished family. She worked from an early age, supporting herself while she attended university to study medieval Polish literature. In the 1930s she worked for a teachers’ association, served as an editor, and began publishing poetry. Swir joined the Resistance during World War II and worked as a military nurse during the Warsaw Uprising; at one . . .

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SUBJECT Relationships, Living, Love, Separation & Divorce, Desire


Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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