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by Jozef Baran

translated from the Polish by Ewa Hryniewicz-Yarbrough

I am foremost a poet
of shy people
those with the aspen leaf of a smile
stuck to their lips and quaking
at every stronger
flurry of words

those poor relatives of the danish
prince hamlet
who have poor diction
and even if with each step they say
to be or not to be
they do it so quietly and hesitantly
that no shakespeare
has made a tragedy of it

ho ho but who can tell
what lies dormant in those small ones
and never opens its mouth
to the world

what enchanted sleeping warriors
wait inside them for the sound of the trumpet
to advance with the flutter of eagle wings
and free the gates of lips
occupied since birth
by enemy guards


Jozef Baran is a Polish poet who has published over twenty books (poetry, essays, interviews). His poems are widely anthologized and also appear in high school textbooks. His work has been translated into German, Russian, Czech, and several other languages.

Ewa Hryniewicz-Yarbrough’s poetry translations have appeared in numerous journals, including Paris Review, TriQuarterly, Image, and Boulevard. She divides her time between Krakow and central California.

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