You must take up the world’s whole weight
and make it easier to bear.
Toss it like a knapsack
on your shoulders and set out.
The best time is evening, in spring, when
trees breathe calmly and the night promises
to be fine, elm twigs crackle in the garden.
The whole weight? Blood and ugliness? Can’t be done.
A trace of bitterness will linger on your lips,
and the contagious despair of the old woman
you spotted in the tram.
Why lie? After all rapture
exists only in imagination and leaves quickly.
Improvisation – always just improvisation,
great or small, that’s all we know,
in music, as a jazz trumpet weeps happily
or when you stare at the blank page
or try to outwit
sorrow by opening a favorite book of poems;
just then the phone usually rings,
someone asking, would you like to try
the latest model? No thank you.
I prefer the proven brands.
Grayness and monotony remain; grief
the finest elegy can’t heal.
But perhaps there are things hidden from us,
in which sorrow and enthusiasm mix
non-stop, on a daily basis, like the dawn’s birth
above the seashore, no, wait,
like the laughter of those little altar boys
in white vestments, on the corner of St. John and Mark,
Improvisation, Adam Zagajewski
translated by Clare Cavanagh