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Julian Przyboś

Julian Przyboś

Trace

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Read by Piotr Czarnota, recorded by Radiofonia Association
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English translation: Gabriela Łagowska
Wind is but a vanished gesture of a hand,
gale traced by birch twigs.
It snowed darkness
that lay itself down sluggishly
in interstellar layers
which the hand left unscathed.

In the leafless light you froze.

Made heaps of snow the deathbed for your silent feet
my mind will never trace again.

So much of the night buried you in its bottomless coal beds
that I’d need
to stop the Earth rolled on us over a decade
and roll it back in a blink
to find your mask unscathed with its fearful eyes
English translation: Gabriela Łagowska
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Julian Przyboś

(1901–1970) A poet, essay writer, editor of literary magazines. His biography portrays the level of complexity of the lives of Polish artists in the 20th century. A youth fighting with the Ukrainians for Lviv, and later with the Bolsheviks in 1920; in the inter-war period he was one of the originators of the Krakow avant-garde and a teacher. After the capture of Lviv by the Soviets, he collaborated with the Russian occupiers. He found himself in Krakow in 1920, enrolled in the Faculty of Polish Studies of the Jagiellonian University. During this time he also cooperated with Tadeusz Peiper and his Zwrotnica magazine. After the war, following a diplomatic episode (he was a delegate of the People’s Republic of Poland to Switzerland in 1947–1951), Przyboś held the post of Director of the Jagiellonian Library. Rumoured to be bored to death there, he used to spend plenty of time at the nearby headquarters of Przekrój weekly (today’s 19 Piłsudskiego Street). He finished his career as a librarian in 1955 and moved to Warsaw. (ezp)
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