Virginity

By Anna Swir 1909–1984 Anna Swir
One must be brave to live through   
a day. What remains
is nothing but the pleasure of longing—very precious.

Longing
purifies as does flying, strengthens as does an effort,   
it fashions the soul
as work
fashions the belly.

It is like an athlete, like a runner   
who will never
stop running. And this
gives him endurance.

Longing
is nourishing for the strong.   
It is like a window
on a high tower, through which   
blows the wind of strength.

Longing,
Virginity of happiness.

Anna Swir, “Virginity” 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

POET’S REGION Poland

Subjects Relationships, Love, Desire, Unrequited Love

Poetic Terms Free Verse

Biography

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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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Relationships, Love, Desire, Unrequited Love

POET’S REGION Poland

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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