Krystyna Miłobędzka

(trans. from Polish

Elżbieta Wójcik-Leese)



into the green spherical high sharp

go on, speak

into the festive, cheerful, ceremonial

go on, speak

into the joyful, lofty

go on, speak

into the redemptive



yet again the same can’t describe!

(the glow of the world, the grey of paper)

the shining of the paper, the hue of that grey

the labyrinth – where only an individual detail may be



the is growing into a tree

the is flowing

the is running, the is flying

the is from the beginning

the is not what it should be

the is not the one, the is to the end

the is there is not, the is there is

the is – I am

the world with you


of me together with me? of you to me? of me to you? closer?

of her in the world? of the world in her? world itself?

of the house? the tree? the son?

and of what has been written? of you written in haste?

of our fate-written tomorrow?

tomorrow, be gentle!


today is what you said would be

again it’s not my own

you have it again your way

I’m trying hard if only ours was


remember it, paint it, shout out


I look and wait listen and wait

walk and wait eat wait sleep wait

neither the day nor the hour

neither myself nor you

neither from here nor up to there

where’s this going on   gone

Krystyna Miłobędzka (b.1932) has published nine poetry volumes. Her 2004 Po krzyku (which translates into the idiomatic ‘It’s All Over,’ but also means ‘After a Shout’) was nominated for the NIKE Prize, the most prestigious literary award in Poland; her 2008 Gubione (One by One Lost) won the 2009 Silesius Book of the Year Award. Miłobędzka’s poetry relies on acute yet tender observation; it is born out of intimacy, hesitations and silences, heard especially in her last collection, where speaking becomes losing words. Her poems seek to overcome the rigidity of syntax: her sentences stray from the beaten path, they aspire to reach further by means of ellipsis and slight grammatical distortions. Her poetry, once described as ‘dramatic ungrammaticalness,’ reminds us that life does not know human speech, that its richness cannot be grasped in words, though at the same time it shows us how words can offer life new spaces to inhabit.

Elżbieta Wójcik-Leese translates contemporary Polish poetry into English. Her translations have been published, among others, in Poetry Review, Poetry London, Modern Poetry in Translation, Poetry Ireland Review, Poetry Wales, Edinburgh Review, Brand, Acumen, Magma, The Wolf, Chicago Review as well as in various anthologies, most recently New European Poets (Graywolf Press, 2008) and Six Polish Poets (Arc, 2008). Salt Monody (Zephyr Press, 2006) is her selection from Marzanna Kielar. She co-edited Carnivorous Boy Carnivorous Bird. Poetry from Poland. A bilingual edition (Zephyr Press, 2004), which presents twenty-four Polish poets born between 1958 and 1969. She is a contributing editor to Poetry Wales and co-editor of Przekładaniec. A Journal of Literary Translation (Kraków, Poland). Her versions of Krystyna Miłobędzka’s are forthcoming from Arc Publications in 2011.