Translated Poems
Stefan Golston

November 8, 1992

Adam Mickiewicz

Translated from Polish by Stefan Golston

Sails stripped, snapped the rudder, and the squalls moan,
The crew's anxious voices, the pumps' baleful sounds,
The last lines wrestled from the sailors hands;
With blood-red sunset, the last hope is gone.

Triumphant wind howled and on the high wave
Rising in tiers out of abyss deep,
Stepped the genius of death and walked to the ship
Like a broken bastion storming savage knave.

This one is all but dead, the other, his hands wringing,
That one in friend's arms as they last embraced,
Some praying before death, to chase death away.

Aside, a lonely, silent traveler was thinking:
"Fortunate he, who is weak and dazed,
Who has someone to part with, or knows how to pray!"

Adam Mickiewicz (1198-1855) was the greatest and beloved Polish poet and a spiritual leader of his time.



January 8, 1997

A Great Secret
Marian Hemar

Translated from Polish by Stefan Golston

Of course: to love. And not to
Waste love, not to squander.
But then - anyone can love,
Still needed: to like each other

To like with mutual affection
With tenderness never benumbed,
Tenderness that warms their hearts
When they think of each other.

Now, do lead me one step further,
In whisper tell me the secret
That still respect is necessary
It's an important advice!

In an embrace, and in kissing
In discord, quarrel, controversy
Be on guard, protect respect
This - most difficult perhaps.

When it all will clear up later
Some worries, some adversities
Sorrows, sadness, tribulations
They will turn to be - mere trifles.

Instantly, concerns will vanish
In hard need, or traps of plenty,
Till the end we both are certain
That even death won't us divorce.


Poem From Aulis
Marian Hemar

Translated from Polish by Stefan Golston

The stars twinkle above
The valley, the water, the bay
Warm wind whispered. Suddenly,
Crowding in the dark water
Slender boats are swarming,
Above the boats - the sails,

White, and every now and then
A royal sail, a purple one.
And on the boats sailors,
Sailors young and brawny,
Half naked - toward one boat
They turn their faces

To only one vessel
Where torches cast a rosy glow
Upon the princely knight's figure.
On boat's prow
In his shiny armor standing,
Lofty, like a tower.

Broad his shoulders spread
Robust as the god Ares
With a proud and tawny face
Stands on bow of the boat
With golden mace in hand
King of kings, Agamemnon.

Suddenly the fleet is swayed
By the sound of great outcry.
The king raises the golden baton!
After him rise the batons
Of the kings of cities and lands
Of Sparta, Thebes, Achaia,
Of Corinth, Argos, Thessaly.

The stars in the sky turn pale,
The forest of torches blazes.

The sailors are shouting: Glory!
The sailors are shouting: Fame!
Fame is swelling their hearts.
The dancing red flames
Glimmer on royal armor.

The oars' leathers are creaking
Straining are lines and pulleys
A thousand boats are setting out
For far off Troy, for Troy!
From here, from Aulis, from this bay.

Sailing to sea, ahead
At first dawn in the sky,
For the East! To win glory
To add splendor to the name!
From here, from Aulis, from this bay.

For a ten-year war.
For a lonely death
On a no-return road they travel,
Where far in a foreign land
People will be cut-up like oxen
Their ashes scattered by the handful.

Perhaps it would surprise them,
To be told at this moment,
That for wanderer's fate,
That for death and for ruin
They sail now - for the Illiad
They sail - for Odyssey.

But they don't know that,
Rosy clouds float above them.
They are off to Trojan war
From here, from Aulis, from this bay.




Scream On The Vistula
Marian Hemar

(Translated from Polish by Stefan Golston)

Every day - I'm getting farther from you.
Every night - more distant from you.
And in the evening the spring over Vistula
In clouds draws on in the sky.

In a day - we won't see each other.
In a week: - we won't greet each other.
In a month - we'll forget each other.
In a year - we won't know each other.

Now with a scream over the black river
I lifted the night as if the lid of a coffin.
Listen - rescue me.
Listen - I love you.
Do you hear?! .... too far already.




A Freudian Ballad
Marian Hemar

Translated from Polish by Stefan Golston

A strait pine grew up, a straight, green pine,
Down she had the roots, up she had the arms.
Below into earth she was growing, on top to the clouds she rose,
As if the earth through this pine to the heights were calling,
As if the earth to the sky high salute were giving,
As if earth wanted to catch the young clouds by the shag
With a strong tall hand, with a strong green palm
Over the thicket risen, with the resin fragrant.
And so growing was the trees' lassie, so swaying was the pine
The forest maiden and the spruces' merry bride.
But fall gave the pine away, envious forest betrayed her
And people cut the pine, pine planted by the wind
And tore her from the soil, and dragged her through the clods
The fierce, the haggard and the breathless people.
There, where the pine grew up, forest will not grow;
Instead, grew an overheated, full of concrete city.
Upwards ran the sky vault, high above hellfire.
Earth escaped under pavement, overburdened, dejected
With sirens noise, with fires, with tumultuous frenzy
The earth threatened the sky and the sky the earth threatened.
By day people the earth disowned, disowned heaven by night
Dingy people, people breathless, people haggard and fierce
To erect stone monuments they wanted, they wanted to build a tower
Above all heights, all measures surpassing.
On the first day of spring the first pillar into earth they drove,
A long, straight, white stake - trunk of the fallen pine.
Into pavement they beat it down, like into a dead bosom's center
There, where the green pine grew at one time.
Oh, the sad welcome! A moanful, plaintive meeting!
Pine the earth recognized, and mother the pine.
The blind, smoothly shaved trunk by groping recalled
The forgotten caresses of forgotten mother.
Weeping were they the next day, of miracle were crying
The fierce, the haggard and the breathless people,
Seeing that at night, through the pavement and rocks
The bare trunk in the dead soil has taken the roots.



Marian Hemar

Translated from Polish by Stefan Golston

A teacher who hundredfold the teaching will repeat
And will never lose the patient calm,
A creditor forgetful of who his debtor is,
A guide on all adventures, on every travel guide,

A friend of your old age, a schoolmate of your youth,
Confessor who'll never of compassion tire,
An augur who unbribeable truth will tell you
And a Sister of Mercy when something will you ail.

Always watchful, at your beck or call is ready
In dead silence of night, or bitter loneliness of dawn;

A solace, who all the infallible words knows
A hundred times repeated, still eternal surprise;

The last love of yours and your first true lover
And the life companion: A Book. Of thee I am writing.




Marian Hemar from Stephen Phillips

Translated from Polish by Stefan Golston

Came to me my dead love,
wasted and pale.

God let me out of grave
for one hour, she says,

To be with you again
and smiles wanly

What shall we do?
I say - well, the usual thing.

We started to argue,
as we often did,

Again, to blame for something,
and to vex each other.

Let's argue no longer, I say, let's make peace,
my dearest, my only one --

I stretch my arms to her, but, alas
the hour has already passed.




Antoni Sionimski (1945)

Translated from Polish by Stefan Golston

I know, I'll go on foot from the, station,
Even if it happened on a dark evening,
Can't lose the way: along the track
Then left from the two acacia trees.

Tobacco flower fragrant in the darkness,
A sweetish scent of the horse manure
And somewhere a distant locomotive whistle
Long, melancholic, dolefully waning.

As it sometimes has been in my dreams,
I'll recognize your voice when you ask: "Who's there?"
And it will painfully grab me by the throat
The fear, the despair and the bliss of return.

"Who's there?" - you will ask. I'll say: "It's me - Antoni
I am here." One more step, one half - step.
And a trembling hand I'll feel on my temple
And will hear the heart beat in the darkness.

"Did not think I'll frighten you so!
Do not turn the lights on, let's stay in the darkness,
Why look in the eyes, eyes no longer ours
When the hearts like in our youth are pounding?"

"Why you came back? It's not good here."
"I knew, but there was no solace for me,
I left here everything I possessed:
The common dreams of our young years."

N.B.: Antoni Sionimski (b.1895), Polish poet.
In the year 1945, when he wrote this poem, Poland was in ruin after the war and was under the boot of the Soviet Union.




Dec 1997

Marian Hemar -- A Paraphrase from Yeats

Translated from Polish by Stefan Golston

Down below in the old garden
we used to meet together daily
She with her snow white feet
amidst greenery walked beside me.

She used to say: Take love easier,
gentler, she said, lighter.
But I was young and foolish
and did not listen to her.

We stood down at the river
in the last of those days
She put her hand on my shoulder
and she said to me:
Take life easier, quieter,
I do fear for you.
But I was young and foolish
and I'm all in tears today.


Marian Hemar was born in 1901 in Lwow, Poland. He studied Medicine and Philosophy,
but devoted his life totally to writing, mainly poetry, songs and plays. There exist several books of his poems.
Early in his life he moved to Warsaw, where he worked with a satirical theater 'Quid Pro Quo.'
During the Second World War he fought in the Polish Army, alongside the Allies, against Hitler. After the war he settled in London, continued writing and was broadcasting a weekly program to the communist Poland.
I don't know the exact date of Hemar's death, except that he passed away in the seventies.






Antoni Slonimski (Written in Paris)
Translated from Polish by Stefan Golston.

Attention! Attention! It passed by!
Comma three!
Somebody runs on the stairs,
Door slammed somewhere,
One sound of the tumult and uproar
Bursts out, timidly rolls, grows,
Sound of sirens - in octave
Subsides - and rises the moan:
"Announcing alarm for the city of Warsaw!"

And silence.
Somewhere from above
Buzzes, buzzes, hums and quivers
And bursts
Deafly in the deeps.
One, two three,
Series of bombs.
It's somewhere farther. No fear.
Possibly Praga.
But now closer, still closer.
Close by, close by.
Shout like a bloody rag.
And silence, silence, which grows stronger
"Attention! Attention!
Recalling the alarm for the city of Warsaw!"

No. This alarm nobody can recall.
This alarm lasts.
Wail, sirens!
Beat, drums!
Cry, the church bells!
Let orchestra play march
From Wagram, From Jena.
Grab this moan, regiments,
Battalions, guns, tanks,
Let it burst forth,
Let it persist
In fiery, sacred "Marseillaise!"

When people leave the church at noon,
When in the sky wind the clouds is chasing,
When a dark sleep on Paris falls,
Who makes me continually listen?
Who is that wakes and calls me?
I hear the hum of the night air raids
Floating over the city. Not the planes these are.
Demolished churches are floating,
The gardens changed into graveyards,
The ruins, the rubble, the wreckage,
From the childhood known streets and houses,
Trauguta and Swietokrzyska
Niecala and Nowy Swiat.
And the city floats on the wings of glory
And falls like a rock to the bottom of the heart.
"Announcing alarm for the city of Warsaw!"
Let it last!

N.B.: Trauguta and Nowy Swiat -- streets in Warsaw.
Fraga - Warsaw suburb on the opposite (right) side of Vistula river.