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Poem of the Day-- Anna Swirszczynska

By John Published: April 15, 2010

Hearing Lici Calderon speak of fear and uncertainty made me think of Anna Swir's poem about the Warsaw Uprising. This is from Postwar Polish Poetry.

Building the Barricade

We were afraid as we built the barricade
under fire.

The tavern-keeper, the jeweler's mistress, the barber,
all of us cowards.
The servant-girl fell to the ground
as she lugged a paving stone, we were terribly afraid
all of us cowards--
the janitor, the market-woman, the pensioner.

The pharmacist fell to the ground
as he dragged the door of a toilet,
we were even more afraid, the smuggler-woman,
the dressmaker, the streetcar driver,
all of us cowards.

A kid from reform school fell
as he dragged a sandbag,
you see we were really
afraid.

Though no on forced us,
we did build the barricade
under fire.

Translated by Magnus Jan Krynski and Robert A. Maguire

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