Andrzej Bursa

Andrzej Bursa

From children’s games and plays

Translated by Marta Klim
When you become bored with everything
get yourself a little angel and a little old man
this is how you play:
you trip the little old man so that he slams his mug into the ground
the little angel bows his head
you give the little old man a penny
the little angel raises his head
you break the little old man’s glasses with a stone
the little angel bows his head
you offer your seat to the little old man on a tram
the little angel raises his head
you empty a potty over the little old man’s head
the little angel bows his head
you tell the little old man: “God bless you”
the little angel raises his head
and so on
and then you go to sleep
you’ll dream about a little angel or a little devil
if that’s a little angel – you win
if a little devil – you lose
if you don’t dream of either
d r a w
Translated by Marta Klim

Andrzej Bursa

(1932-1957) – a poet, prose writer, dramatist and journalist. He is regarded as one of the “cursed poets”. He spent his whole life in Krakow. From 1945 he attended the Jan Kochanowski Secondary School (today the Secondary School of General Education no. 3). In 1951, he began to study journalism and then Bulgarian philology at the Jagiellonian University. In 1952, he married a student of the Academy of Fine Arts - Ludwika Szemioth, with whom he had son Michał. From 1954 he worked as a journalist in Dziennik Polski.

He debuted with the poem “Głos w dyskusji o młodzieży” [“A Voice in the Discussion about Young People”) published in Życie Literackie in 1954. From 1956 he co-operated with Tadeusz Kantor’s Cricot 2 Theatre and the Piwnica pod Baranami cabaret. During the thaw period, he resigned from his membership with the Polish United Workers' Party and cancelled his registration in church books.

He is the author of works such as the narrative poem Luiza and the novel Zabicie ciotki [The Killing of an Aunt] (filmed in 1984). His poems combine sharp irony with poetic sophistication and often reveal and parody the fossilised use of language.

His debut poetic volume Kat bez maski [The Executioner Without a Mask] was rejected by the Wydawnictwo Literackie publishing house in 1957. Only after the poet’s death did the same publishing house release the collection Wiersze [Poems], which won an award at the Festival of Young Polish Poetry in Poznań.

He died in November 1957 as a result of a congenital heart disease, although there were rumours of his suicide. He is buried at the Rakowicki Cemetery.

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