Thursday, January 22, 2009

Tadeusz Rózewicz, Survivor

Mickiewicz: "It is more difficult to live through a day well than to write a good book"

Tadeusz Rózewicz in Conversation with Adam Czerniawski
"I search books and poems for practical help. I hope they will help me overcome despair and doubt and, strangely enough, I sought help both in Dostoevsky and in Conrad. Similarly, I sought help during the Occupation, and even before, in poetry. And when this led to disappointment-after all, these were only books-I became angry and disillusioned with the greatest works. I felt I was muddling things up in some way and yet I couldn't face up to this. Because I myself have always searched, begged for help, I began to think that I too may be able to help, though of course I also have moments when I feel it's not worth anything. Occasionally, someone writes to me in a way that strengthens my conviction regarding my determination to turn words into practice."

The Survivor
by Tadeusz Rozewicz

I am twenty-four
led to slaughter
I survived.

The following are empty synonyms:
man and beast
love and hate
friend and foe
darkness and light.

The way of killing men and beasts is the same
I've seen it:
Truckfuls of chopped-up me
who will not be saved.

Ideas are mere words:
virtue and crime
truth and lies
beauty and ugliness
courage and cowardice.

Virtue and crime weigh the same
I"ve seen it:
in a man who was both
criminal and virtuous

I seek a teacher and a master
may he restore my sight hearing and speech
may he again name objects and ideas
may he separate darkness and light

I am twenty-four
led to slaughter
I survived.

translated by Adam Czerniawski

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