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Ewa Szelburg-Zarembina

Photo courtesy of the National Digital Archives.

Ewa Szelburg-Zarembina

Gaudeamus

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Read by Marta Meissner, recorded by Radiofonia Association.
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English translation: Paulina Ohar-Zima

I do not know how to describe this place, those matters. It is like in a picture album, like in historical books, and yet so completely different. I can hardly cope with this city, and thence with everything that I had felt, that I had known until I found myself encircled by those strange walls. It is like before the war, when my Father was alive, with that fossilized ammonite I found in the limestone rock by the road we took when the three of us traveled to Kazimierz for Whit Sunday, do you remember, Mummy?

“Fossilized, and yet it proves,” said Kaj, “that thousands of years ago a sea rolled here, where the Vistula proglacial valley is blossoming with flowers, encircled by limestone hills.” But there is yet something different about this town. Wherever you tread, a stone seems to move underfoot, pushed by the fists of history buried alive. They, they who were born here, do not feel it so much, but we, visitors from the Kingdom, do not always know how to act. Me, I tend to make a fool of myself. Perhaps because I am not adapted yet.

 

English translation: Paulina Ohar-Zima
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Ewa Szelburg-Zarembina

(1899–1986) – a writer, poet, author of well-known works for children and youngsters. Born on 10 April 1899 in Bronowice near Puławy as Irena Szelburg, she spent her childhood in Nałęczów. In the years 1919–1922, she lived in Krakow and studied Polish Philology at the Jagiellonian University. She debuted in 1922 as author of children’s poems and stories. She was the first Chancellor of the Order of Smile and the initiator of the founding of The Children’s Memorial Health Institute in commemoration of children’s heroism. She worked also on educational programmes and edited student’s books. For adult readers, she wrote e.g. a series of novels Rzeka kłamstwa (The River of Lies),the last volume of which, Gaudeamus, includes excerpts based on autobiographic memories from Krakow. In 1966, she received the Ministry of Culture and Art Award for her whole oeuvre and the 1st Degree Polish State Award. She died on 28 September 1986 in Warsaw and was buried in Nałęczów. 
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