THE BELLS – Adam Zagajewski


And you know what they say each time a bell rings?

A new angel gets its wings….

Angel closeup Montp


We’ll take refuge in bells, in the swinging bells,
in the peal, the air, the heart of ringing.
We’ll take refuge in bells and we’ll float
over the earth in their heavy casings.

Over the earth, over meadows
and a single white daisy, over the bench on which love
carved its imperfect symbol, over a willow
obedient to the will of cool wind,

over the Tatras’ green lake, over crying
and mourning, over binoculars shining
in sun,

Over the border, over your attentive gaze,
over the pupil of somebody’s eye, over a rusty cannon,
over the garden gate which no longer exists,
over clouds, over rain drinking dew,

over the town park where a Swiss Army knife,
lost lifetimes ago, lies hidden still.

When the night comes, we’ll take refuge
in bells, those airy carriages,
those bronze balloons.

(Translated by Renata Gorczynski, Benjamin Ivry and C. K. Williams)


28 comments on “THE BELLS – Adam Zagajewski

    • Impossible Friendships

      By Adam Zagajewski
      Translated by Clare Cavanagh

      For example, with someone who no longer is,
      who exists only in yellowed letters.

      Or long walks beside a stream,
      whose depths hold hidden

      porcelain cups—and the talks about philosophy
      with a timid student or the postman.

      A passerby with proud eyes
      whom you’ll never know.

      Friendship with this world, ever more perfect
      (if not for the salty smell of blood).

      The old man sipping coffee
      in St.-Lazare, who reminds you of someone.

      Faces flashing by
      in local trains—

      the happy faces of travelers headed perhaps
      for a splendid ball, or a beheading.

      And friendship with yourself
      —since after all you don’t know who you are.


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