Tadeusz Rozewicz

book-trzeciak-sobbing-superpower

Griffin Poetry Prize 2012
International Shortlist

Book: Sobbing Superpower: Selected Poems of Tadeusz Różewicz

Translator: Joanna Trzeciak

Poet: Tadeusz Różewicz

Publisher: >W.W. Norton & Company

Click here to read and listen to an excerpt.

Joanna Trzeciak reads The Story of Old Women from her translation of Sobbing Superpower: Selected Poems of Tadeusz Rosewicz

The Story of Old Women

I like old women
ugly women
mean women

they are the salt of the earth

they are not disgusted by
human waste

they know the flipside
of the coin
of love
of faith

dictators clown around
come and go
hands stained
with human blood

old women get up at dawn
buy meat fruit bread
clean cook
stand on the street
arms folded silent

old women
are immortal

Hamlet flails in a snare
Faust plays a base and comic role
Raskolnikov strikes with an axe

old women
are indestructible
they smile knowingly

god dies
old women get up as usual
at dawn they buy bread wine fish
civilization dies
old women get up at dawn
open the windows
cart away waste
man dies
old women
wash the corpse
bury the dead
plant flowers
on graves

I like old women
ugly women
mean women

they believe in eternal life
they are the salt of the earth
the bark of a tree
the timid eyes of animals

cowardice and bravery
greatness and smallness
they see in their proper proportions
commensurate with the demands
of everyday life
their sons discover America
perish at Thermopylae
die on the cross

conquer the cosmos

old women leave at dawn
for the city to buy milk bread meat
season the soup
open the windows

only fools laugh
at old women
ugly women
mean women

because these beautiful women
kind women
old women
are like an ovum
a mystery devoid of mystery
a sphere that rolls on

old women
are mummies
of sacred cats

they’re either small
withered
dry springs
dried fruit
or fat
round buddhas

and when they die
a tear rolls down
a cheek
and joins
a smile on the face
of a young woman

From Sobbing Superpower: Selected Poems of Tadeusz Różewicz, translated by Joanna Trzeciak
English translation copyright © 2011 by Joanna Trzeciak

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