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“This is the first line . . .”

by Tadeusz Dąbrowski

translated from the Polish by Jennifer Carter-Zielińska


This is the first line. This line is meaningless.
And this is the second line, in which you’re no longer yourself,
which means you aren’t the person from the first line,
and now you aren’t even who you were
in lines two and three, and four, and additionally

in five. This poem is life, I do everything
to be myself in every line, so that every line
by some miracle bends back to me, meanwhile you,
whether you want to or not, must live this life and in

the last line, as close to the end as possible,
make the grade, the subject of which will be
you. You’ll only survive if you admit

that the poem spoke of God. The last line will come
however faster
than

 

Tadeusz Dąbrowski (b. 1979) is a Polish poet, essayist, and critic who has won, among other honors, the Hubert Burda Prize (2008) and, from Tadeusz Różewicz, the Prize of the Foundation for Polish Culture (2006). His first collection to appear in English will soon be released by Zephyr Press. He lives in Gdańsk. (5/2009)

Jennifer Carter-Zielińska, an American freelance translator, lives in Sopot, Poland. In addition to numerous commercial and scientific translations, she has published translations of work by Kazimierz Wierzyński, Andrzej Wajda, and Zbigniew Rossa. (5/2009)


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