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Przekrój
A late poem from one of the greatest Polish poets of the last century.
2021-10-07 09:00:00
Totentanz
Read in 1 minut

tonight I was sent
an invitation to a dance
hop! now now!

lying in darkness silent as a stone
meat is falling off the bone
hop! now now!

touching my forehead and parietal
I feel my head turning into a skull
hop! now now!

wrapped tight in the shroud of night
I yell “help” but no one hears my cry
hop! now now!

my life has always been rather lame
but now death calls me to fun and games
hop! now now!

I'm scared as poets are known to be
even Wolfgang Goethe got the heebee jeebees
hop! now now!

he fled his bed as if possessed
green with fear in a yellow vest
hop! now now!

winter is passing spring is round the corner
my stomach is grumbling and fast grows the fauna
hop! now now

It’s hard to lie in a grave when you aren’t dead yet
I count the bones in my body as I go to bed
hop! now now!

I drink three shots of vodka in search of forgetting
but the vodka turns into the waters of Lethe
hop! now now!

I sit at a table with my own skeleton
I gaze at the black bottomless Lethe
hop! now now!

I hear life flowing through my bones
but death is waiting for me and yawns
hop! now now!

 

Translated from the Polish by Joanna Trzeciak Huss

 
 

 

 

Published:

Tadeusz Różewicz

was born in 1921 in Radomsko and is one of the greatest Polish poets of the 20th century. His debut book of poems from 1948, marked by the war trauma, revolutionized Polish poetry. He developed his own poetics, writing short stories and theatre pieces alongside his poems. Różewicz died in 2014, in Wrocław.