One has just been sent out as a biblical dove, has found nothing green, and slips back
into the darkness of the ark -- Kafka

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Since I've Brought Up Leopold Staff (1878-1957)

A few words from Milosz on Staff (from Milosz's The History of Polish Literature):

He had the good fortune to have been always accepted, sometimes admiringly, sometimes reluctantly. Since his death in 1957, many scholarly treatises on Staff and his work have appeared, but the assessments of his position in the history of Polish poetry vary. In all probability, Staff will be assigned the place of a model humanist, a perfect craftsman, one of the major influences shaping poetry in Poland, but not himself a major poet, unless we consider the great bulk of his output a necessary preparation for a relatively small number of lyrics which figure in every anthology of Polish poetry.

And the only other poem I have of Staff's (also, presumably, translated by Milosz):

The Bridge

I didn't believe,
Standing on the bank of a river
Which was wide and swift,
That I would cross the bridge
Plaited from thin, fragile reeds
Fastened with bast.
I walked delicately as a butterfly
And heavily as an elephant,
I walked surely as a dancer
And wavered like a blind man.
I didn't believe that I would cross that bridge,
And now that I am standing on the other side
I don't believe I crossed it.
Post a Comment