A Moment

By Wisława Szymborska
Translated from the Polish by Joanna Trzeciak

I’m walking on the slope of a hill newly green.
Grass, small flowers in the grass,
just as in a children’s book.
Hazy sky, already turning blue.
A view of other hills spreads out in silence.

As if there had been no Cambrians or Siluries here,
rocks growling at one another,
upthrust abysses, no fiery nights
nor days in clouds of darkness.

As if no plains had moved through here
in feverish delirium,
in icy shivers.

As if only elsewhere had the seas been churning,
tearing apart the edges of the horizon.

It is nine-thirty local time.
Everything is in its place and in genial accord.
In the valley, the small stream as a small stream.
The path as a path from always to ever.

Woods in the guise of woods world without end amen,
and on high, birds in flight as birds in flight.

As far as the eye can see a moment reigns here.
One of those earthly moments
implored to linger.


Joanna Trzeciak is Associate Professor of Russian and Translation Studies at Kent State University. Her research concerns Nabokov as a self-translating author. Her translations of Polish and Russian literature have appeared in The New York TimesThe New YorkerTimes Literary SupplementHarper’sThe AtlanticParis ReviewField, and New Ohio Review, among others. Miracle Fair: Selected Poems of Wisława Szymborska (W.W. Norton, 2001), was awarded the Heldt Translation Prize. Sobbing Superpower: Selected Poems of Tadeusz Różewicz (W.W. Norton, 2011) was shortlisted for the Griffin Prize, and is the winner of the Found in Translation Award and the AATSEEL Award for Best Scholarly Translation.

Originally appeared in NOR 5

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