Happy as a Dog’s Tail

By Anna Swir 1909–1984 Anna Swir
Happy as something unimportant   
and free as a thing unimportant.   
As something no one prizes
and which does not prize itself.   
As something mocked by all
and which mocks at their mockery.   
As laughter without serious reason.   
As a yell able to outyell itself.   
Happy as no matter what,
as any no matter what.

Happy
as a dog’s tail.

Anna Swir, “Happy as a Dog’s Tail” 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)

Discover this poem’s context and related poetry, articles, and media.

Poet Anna Swir 1909–1984

POET’S REGION Poland

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 . . .

Continue reading this biography

POET’S REGION Poland

Poetic Terms Free Verse

Report a problem with this poem

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

This poem has learning resources.

This poem is good for children.

This poem has related video.

This poem has related audio.