Crowing of roosters signals change in weather
Beneath bluish cloud the bluish pith of plums
With ash-grey coating and sticky slit-
There the sweet crusts of dirty amber.
The tongue toils to smooth the coarsened stone
And seasons pass. But still it wounds the palate
Promising-I will touch the essence-sense of
When roosters crowed at the change in
A Short Treatise On Analogies
In a car, in front of the Lesko synagogue
Waiting for Madame M.R.
I watched a bee trying from inside
To conquer the steep windshield,
Her effort formulating itself into a simple
Allegory about existence in general.
I picked up the notebook, in which I now
Note down this event, and with its help
Steered the insect toward the
Believing, though not entirely, that some day
Someone will act similarly with me.
Six Forty-Five A.M.
Naked branches throng my window.
About quarter to seven.
Stirring below by the garage:
Starting up engines, slamming doors.
My leg in a tight, plaster
Cast-weighted and leaden.
I reach for a yogourt wondering
What today have I to say to myself.
"While reading your poems, my tail bone went numb many times"-this is how Zbigniew Herbert, recently deceased author of "Pan Cogito" and one of the greatest poets of our century, wrote about Janusz Szuber's poetry.
Another prominent poet, Nobel prizewinner Czeslaw Milosz, has called the first poem presented here a "masterpiece". He reproduced it in his book, Another ABC, as an example of poetry that is attentive, sympathetic to people and nature, acutely perceptive of reality, a counterweight to nihilism.
Janusz Szuber was born in 1948 in southeastern Poland, not far from the spot where the borders of Poland, Ukraine, and Slovakia converge. These borderlands are commonly known as Eastern Galicia, and they are a beautiful, mountainous, but also tragic region, whose earth has been soaked in the blood of Poles, Ukrainians, Jews, Russians, Germans, Hutsuls, and many other nations. Its earth has also trickled with the memories of the people who have inhabited the region and who have orally passed on their traditions. Stanislaw Vincez, born sixty years before Szuber, and Bruno Schulz, a brilliant writer who was killed by the Gestapo in 1942 in his hometown of Drohobycz, a mere ninety kilometres away, have delved into these treasures.
Szuber graduated from Warsaw University and returned to his hometown of Sanok in the early seventies. For many years, he did not taken active part in literary life due to illness and disability. His first poems were published just three years ago. To date, seven books of his poetry have appeared to the wide critical acclaim of the literary world, winning Szuber several awards. Two more volumes will appear in Poland later this year. This is his debut in English. (M.K.)
(Poems translated by Diana Kuprel,
Marek Kusiba, & Roman Sabo)