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Stanisław Przybyszewski

Photo courtesy of the National Digital Archives

Stanisław Przybyszewski

Sons of the Earth

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Read by Piotr Czarnota, recorded by Radiofonia Association
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English translation: Robert Olechnowicz

 The Cloth Hall and the noble lines of St. Mary's Church were gradually emerging from the darkness. Some strange purity, the Whitsuntide ceremonial white, laid its solemn, prayer-filled charm down on the Market Square. He stood by the window and gazed long upon this bright purple, strangely captivating morning service of the dawn. He let his thought roam around the whole city. The sad yet proud Wawel Castle, so focused, stubborn and grim, like a man in whom all life crumbled. The Church of the Holy Cross, calm and crouched low on the ground. So calm, and yet so deep in blissful thought — this wonderful church, the 'Victoria regia' of all churches which blooms in the silent night and watches in awe as the leaves grow bigger, bend outwards and let a mythical bloom suddenly rise from their bosom. And St. Catherine's Church, sprawled on the ground like an oak uprooted by some dreadful hurricane. And the Corpus Christi Basilica like one firm, indomitable gate of paradise at which, as it seems, an Angel with a burning sword stands guard. He let his soul wander around this white city, this treasury holding a grand royal past. It was now plagued by chapmen and professors, and cowardly self-indulgence, and foolish hypocrisy — and the Vistula River flowed around lazily, slowly — for it has time, it has time! — it flowed and breathed the plague of malaria upon this beautiful city. Malaria everywhere! Malaria filled the blood and tissues of ragged beggars and Jews, malaria in the brains and nerves of those neurasthenics, incapable of living the life to which they had swarmed before, malaria in the hearts of deceptive, debaucherous townspeople with small and untidy souls. It seemed to him as if the entire city was down with this satanic malaria. He saw it in the eyes of the professor who calmly elaborated on the topic of who pulls the pig to the market, rope or man? He saw it on the parchment-like skin of the priest who was a companion and accomplice of some count accused of a despicable crime — malaria was destroying a whole generation of the derailed and disinherited ones who, in order to live, let themselves be used by shady press for the worst atrocities. He laughed miserably.  Malaria! malaria! His soul has also been gnawed on by the venom of sickness, his hands dropped and his heart aches, aches so much... Everything in this grand reliquary was being tainted and destroyed by this venom — be it the noblest drive, most fervent outburst or elation.  And the old Vistula's 'silver ribbon' flowed around — slowly and lazily, breathing plague upon the city. A terrible sadness filled his soul to the brim. This city was encircled by Satan.

 

English translation: Robert Olechnowicz
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Stanisław Przybyszewski

 (1868–1927) – a poet and playwright, the best known representative of Krakow bohemians. For many years connected to Berlin, where he lived together with his wife, Dagny, being the central piece of numerous scandals in the European society. In 1898, he moved to Krakow, where a powerful group of artists-decadents gathered around him. The “children of Satan”, as the group very quickly became to be known, used to spend time in Teatralna Café on Szpitalna,Street where only members of the Krakow bohème were permitted entry, which must have been the direct reason for the quick bankruptcy of its owner. (ms)

 

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