Bruno Jasieński

Bruno Jasieński

The City

Read by Wojciech Barczyński, recorded by Radiofonia Association.
English translation: Dominika Stankiewicz

Dark. Still. Black.

Not a word. Sleeps the family.

Works, works through the night


Girls ruffle their linen.

It's eerie and stops their breath –

Painfully, they dream of sinning,

Their first, sweet death.

The windows blacken. All is asleep.

Hush!... In the silence – a shrill.

In brothels, hotels, chambres garniers,

To the rhythm of blood keep

Turning, a thousand vanes of the mill.

The City - millions of pallets,

A gigantic mating coop.

Tomorrow, the doctor will fix

All the rash, every callus

On every woman’s croup.

People in infirmary halls,

All wide like a funnel,

Crowded in hospitals,

A never-ending motley runnel.


English translation: Dominika Stankiewicz

Bruno Jasieński

(born in Kilmontów in 1901, died in Moscow in 1938), co-initiator of Polish futurism, a poet and communist activist, murdered in Moscow by the Stalinist regime. A son to a Jewish doctor, while his mother was  of nobility descent, he was born Wiktor Zysman (later he was adopted by the Jasieński family but his biological parents still took care of him). He spent early childhood in his native Klimontów, then went to primary school in Warsaw. During the First World War he was in Moscow. Having returned to Poland in 1919, he began his studies in Krakow – initially in philosophy, then in law. Four years later he was already active in Lviv where he joined the artistic avant-garde. In the aftermath of the events which took place in Krakow in 1923, when 18 workers participating in a demonstration were killed and a couple of dozens injured in the fighting with the police and the army, Jasieński became a communist. His political choice led him to complete identification with the Soviet Union (after a stay in Paris, he settled in the USSR in 1929).  However, this did not save him from Stalin’s great purge in the 1930s. In 1937 he was arrested in Moscow, sentenced to death and executed on the same day.

In Krakow, Bruno (the name he took in 1920) Jasieński, rejected by the Skamandryci group, in 1920 organised the first poetry soirée (poezowieczór)  of the Futurist Club “Pod Katarynką” [Hurdy-Gurdy], held at the Esplanada café in Krupnicza Street (at the intersection with Podwale Street). Among the Club members were Stanisław Młodożeniec, a student and poet, and the painter and writer Tytus Czyżewski, who was already well known in the artistic milieu. Shortly after that Jasieński had his debut in the Krakow-based Formiści periodical under chief editor Czyżewski. While in Krakow, Bruno Jasiński lived in a student hostel at Jabłonowskich Street; his other Krakow addresses were Na Groblach Square and Radziwiłłowska Street. 

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