Autumn

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, http://us.macmillan.com/fsg. All rights reserved.
Source: Selected Poems (Farrar Straus and Giroux, 2004)
More Poems by Adam Zagajewski