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Tadeusz Peiper

Photo by Władysław Miernicki, courtesy of the National Digital Archives

Tadeusz Peiper

Flower of the street

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Read by Piotr Czarnota, recorded by Radiofonia Association
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English translation: Katarzyna Badura
Silver. Roadway. Rally of colours. Pavements.
Women. Winter straw wraps made of scent. Gowns of mirrors. Sun on the rainbowing threads
of the invisible stalk.
A shop window. A car. I, who am not driving it.

The skin of the roadway wreathes with silver the tailcoat of the car.
Dreaming, pavements lie on women’s gowns.
The display window impregnated with the saliva of light
throws proclamations of the sun on my back.

Silver, the skin of the roadway, splashes the sides of the car,
which carries joy fat as a wheel.
Women’s gowns under the straw wraps of the scent of the mirror
of bottle dreams and liquid light,
reflect pavements, which were cheerfully
sowed with colours by the noonday hour.
The sun puts itself up for sale
in the shop window, and pours golden salt
at my back, greedy for the vice of warmth.

I pick that sun from the display window,
think it into straw wraps of women’s scent,
wrap it in pavements torn off women’s gowns,
I pour it into silver, then with the car into my own head,
and, having brought home that unnamed flower of the street,
in the herbarium of smiles I paste it on first page.
English translation: Katarzyna Badura
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Tadeusz Peiper

1891–1969)One of the most important artists of the Polish avant-garde, he coined the “three Ms” strain in poetry (Metropolis, Mass, Machine; Polish: miasto, masa, maszyna) in the inter-war period. Founder and editor of Zwrotnica magazine, and an eminent animator of literary life before the Second World War. Brought up in an established Podgórze family, where his father (d. 1903) became the city’s deputy mayor. After a long time spent abroad, Peiper became actively involved with the avant-garde and was a regular of the avant-garde Esplanada café on the corner of Krupnicza and Podwale streets. He lived in a townhouse on ul. Jagiellońska, where he edited Zwrotnica. Peiper spent the war in the USSR (evacuated to Lviv, imprisoned by the NKVD, deported to the wastelands of Russia, he returned in 1944). After 1945 he lived in Lublin, Łódź, and shortly in Krakow – like many other writers, he turned to the undamaged Krakow to look for a place to live, and took lodgings in Writers’ House at 22 Krupnicza Street. Shortly afterwards he left to settle permanently in Warsaw. (ezp)
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