Night Is a Cistern

By Adam Zagajewski b. 1945 Adam Zagajewski

Translated By Clare Cavanagh

Night is a cistern. Owls sing. Refugees tread meadow roads   
with the loud rustling of endless grief.   
Who are you, walking in this worried crowd.   
And who will you become, who will you be   
when day returns, and ordinary greetings circle round.

Night is a cistern. The last pairs dance at a country ball.   
High waves cry from the sea, the wind rocks pines.   
An unknown hand draws the dawn’s first stroke.   
Lamps fade, a motor chokes.   
Before us, life’s path, and instants of astronomy.

Source: Poetry (June 2006).


This poem originally appeared in the June 2006 issue of Poetry magazine

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June 2006
 Adam  Zagajewski


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.

Zagajewski was considered . . .

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