Autumn always too early

English: Autumn fallen leaves of Zelkova serra...

Autumn fallen leaves of Zelkova serrata (Photo credit: Wikipedia)



Autumn is always too early.
The peonies are still blooming, bees   
are still working out ideal states,
and the cold bayonets of autumn   
suddenly glint in the fields and the wind
What is its origin? Why should it destroy   
dreams, arbors, memories?
The alien enters the hushed woods,   
anger advancing, insinuating plague;   
woodsmoke, the raucous howls
of Tatars.
Autumn rips away leaves, names,   
fruit, it covers the borders and paths,   
extinguishes lamps and tapers; young   
autumn, lips purpled, embraces   
mortal creatures, stealing
their existence.
Sap flows, sacrificed blood,
wine, oil, wild rivers,
yellow rivers swollen with corpses,
the curse flowing on: mud, lava, avalanche,   
Breathless autumn, racing, blue
knives glinting in her glance.
She scythes names like herbs with her keen   
sickle, merciless in her blaze
and her breath. Anonymous letter, terror,   
Red Army.

Adam Zagajewski

Adam Zagajewski, “Autumn,” translated by Renata Gorczynski, from Without End: New and Selected Poems. Copyright © 2002 by Adam Zagajewski. Used by permission of Farrar, Straus & Giroux, LLC

Adam Zagajewski

Adam Zagajewski – Photo by Jerry Bauer

Adam Zagajewski (Lvov, Poland, 1945)  was considered one of the “Generation of ’68” or “New Wave” writers in Poland; his early work was protest poetry, though he has moved away from that emphasis in his later work.

Collections of poetry: Tremor (1985), Mysticism for Beginners (1997), and World Without End: New and Selected Poems (2002).

Zagajewski’s prose collections include Two Cities: On Exile, History and the Imagination (1995) and the 2000 memoir Another Beauty. Zagajewski has won the Prix de la Liberté as well as fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the Berliner Kunstleprogramm.

  • “Try to Praise the Mutilated World” by Adam Zagajewski (
    You’ve seen the refugees going nowhere,
    you’ve heard the executioners sing joyfully.
    You should praise the mutilated world.
    Remember the moments when we were together
    in a white room and the curtain fluttered.
  • To Go to Lvov by Adam Zagajewski (
    To go to Lvov. Which station
    for Lvov, if not in a dream, at dawn, when dew
    gleams on a suitcase, when express
    trains and bullet trains are being born. To leave
    in haste for Lvov, night or day, in September
    or in March. But only if Lvov exists,
    if it is to be found within the frontiers and not just
    in my new passport, if lances of trees
    – of poplar and ash – still breathe aloud
    like Indians, and if streams mumble
    their dark Esperanto, and grass snakes like soft signs
    in the Russian language disappear
    into thickets.
  • Lughnasadh (
  • Sunday Poem (
    Rain fell. I felt a little happiness. Someone entered,
    someone left, someone finally discovered the perpetuum mobile.
  • Nobel Prize in Literature announced Thursday (
    It also includes names far less familiar to most American readers: Belarusian journalist Svetlana Aleksijevitj (6/1), Polish poet Adam Zagajewski (20/1), Egyptian writer Nawal El Saadawi (20/1), Chinese poet Bei Dao (25/1), and South African novelist Karel Schoeman (33/1).

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Filed under Nature, Poetry - Poems

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