Summer 2011 • Vol. XXXIII No. 3 PoetryJuly 1, 2011 |

Vita contemplativa

From the Polish.  It may already be September. I drank tasteless coffee in a café garden on Museumsinsel and thought about Berlin, its dark waters. These black buildings have seen much. But peace reigns in Europe, diplomats doze, the sun is pale, summer dies serenely, spiders weave its shining shroud, the dry leaves of plane trees write memoirs of their youth. So this is the vita contemplativa. The Pergamon's dark walls, white sculptures inside. A bust of Greek loveliness. So this is it. An altar before which no one prays. So this is the vita contemplativa. Happiness. A moment without an hour, in the words of the poet killed in Lublin by a bomb. So this is it. And what if, in this or another city, the vita activa burst forth once more, what would Artemis, fourth century BCE, do? Narcissus? Hermes? Pergamon faces watch me with envy —I still make mistakes, they can't. Comparing day and night; so this is it. Dream with waking, world and mind. Joy. Composu

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By Adam Zagajewski, translated by Clare Cavanagh

From the Polish.  It may already be September. I drank tasteless coffee in a café garden on Museumsinsel and thought about Berlin, its dark waters. These black buildings have seen […]

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From the Polish.  It may already be September. I drank tasteless coffee in a café garden on Museumsinsel and thought about Berlin, its dark waters. These black buildings have seen […]

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