Wawel, Kraków, Poland
“Flirtation”, 1889 by Władysław Czachórski (1850 - 1911)
Polish Literature: The City Where I Want To Live by Adam Zagajewski
The city is quiet at dusk,
when pale stars waken from their swoon,
and resounds at noon with the voices
of ambitious philosophers and merchants
bearing velvet from the East.
The flames of conversation burn there,
but not pyres.
Old churches, the mossy stones
of ancient prayer, are both its ballast
and its rocket ship.
It is a just city
where foreigners aren’t punished,
a city quick to remember
and slow to forget,
tolerating poets, forgiving prophets
for their hopeless lack of humor.
The city was based
on Chopin’s preludes,
taking from them only joy and sorrow.
Small hills circle it
in a wide collar; ash trees
grow there, and the slim poplar,
chief justice in the state of trees.
The swift river flowing through the city’s heart
murmurs cryptic gre(e)tings
day and night
from the springs, the mountains, and the sky.
■ Adam Zagajewski wrote this poem for Warsaw. Adam Zagajewski was born in Lwów (January 1, 1946, now; Lyiv, Ukraine & Then; Lvov, Ukrainian SSR). The Zagajewski family (just like many other Poles) was expelled from Lwów by the Ukrainians to central Poland the same year (1946) during the Polish population transfers in 1944 - 1946, following the World War II.