Wisława Szymborska

An Unexpected Meeting
We treat each other with exceeding courtesy; we says, it’s great to see you after all these years.
Our tigers drink milk. Our hawks tread the ground. Our sharks have all drowned. Our wolves yawn beyond the open cage.
Our snakes have shed their lightning, our apes their flights of fancy, our peacocks have renounced their plumes. The bats flew out of our hair long ago.
We fall silent in mid-sentence, all smiles, past help. Our humans don’t know how to talk to one another.


translated from the Polish by Stanislaw Baranczak & Clare Cavanagh

Wisława Szymborska

An Unexpected Meeting

We treat each other with exceeding courtesy;
we says, it’s great to see you after all these years.

Our tigers drink milk.
Our hawks tread the ground.
Our sharks have all drowned.
Our wolves yawn beyond the open cage.

Our snakes have shed their lightning,
our apes their flights of fancy,
our peacocks have renounced their plumes.
The bats flew out of our hair long ago.

We fall silent in mid-sentence,
all smiles, past help.
Our humans
don’t know how to talk to one another.

translated from the Polish by Stanislaw Baranczak & Clare Cavanagh

Asymptote’s Pushcart Nominations 2012

We are proud to nominate the following pieces for the Pushcart prize:

POETRY

'when you have the benefit of hindsight' by Lutz Seiler
translated from the German by Alexander Booth

'Ghazal' by Bidel Dehlavi
translated from the Persian by Rebecca Gould

NONFICTION

'The Generosity of a Matchstick' by Reif Larsen

'Transparency' by Marek Bieńczyk
translated from the Polish by Benjamin Paloff

'The Mausoleum of Lovers' by Hervé Guibert
translated from the French by Nathanaël

FICTION

'Natura Morta: A Roman Novella' by Josef Winkler
translated from the German by Adrian West

We are grateful to all our wonderful contributors, and to these in particular we offer our congratulations as well.

AM

A belated, but hearty, congratulations to the 2012 Best Translated Book Award Winners!
The winner in poetry was Spectacle & Pigsty by Kiwao Nomura (Omnidawn, 2011), translated from the Japanese by Kyoko Yoshida and Forrest Gander. Here is something by Kiwao Nomura/Kyoko Yoshida/Forrest Gander in the pages of Asymptote.
The winner in fiction was Stone Upon Stone by Wiesław Myśliwski (Archipelago Books, 2010), translated from the Polish by Bill Johnston.
AM High-res

A belated, but hearty, congratulations to the 2012 Best Translated Book Award Winners!

The winner in poetry was Spectacle & Pigsty by Kiwao Nomura (Omnidawn, 2011), translated from the Japanese by Kyoko Yoshida and Forrest Gander. Here is something by Kiwao Nomura/Kyoko Yoshida/Forrest Gander in the pages of Asymptote.

The winner in fiction was Stone Upon Stone by Wiesław Myśliwski (Archipelago Books, 2010), translated from the Polish by Bill Johnston.

AM

In Asymptote April 2012: 'Mlle Lambercier's Comb' by Marek Bieńczyk, translated from the Polish by Agata Lisiak 

If it were possible to erect a new monument to Jean-Jacques [Rousseau] today (for example, in Warsaw’s Skaryszewski Park), I imagine that it might take the form of the “Man of Glass,” L’Homme de verre, the statue that greeted visitors to the main hall of the Paris World’s Fair in 1937. Illuminated by a shaft of light from above, it reaches into this brightness with a glass hand that flows with artificial blood; it tenses its glass torso, in which one can count all the ribs; while the glass legs, with their tangled muscles and glass arteries, hold the trunk in a straight posture, firmly planted, yet ready to raise it lightly, even to launch it into the air.

FD

In Asymptote April 2012: 'Mlle Lambercier's Comb' by Marek Bieńczyk, translated from the Polish by Agata Lisiak

If it were possible to erect a new monument to Jean-Jacques [Rousseau] today (for example, in Warsaw’s Skaryszewski Park), I imagine that it might take the form of the “Man of Glass,” L’Homme de verre, the statue that greeted visitors to the main hall of the Paris World’s Fair in 1937. Illuminated by a shaft of light from above, it reaches into this brightness with a glass hand that flows with artificial blood; it tenses its glass torso, in which one can count all the ribs; while the glass legs, with their tangled muscles and glass arteries, hold the trunk in a straight posture, firmly planted, yet ready to raise it lightly, even to launch it into the air.

FD

In Asymptote January 2012: an excerpt from I Burn Paris by Bruno Jasieński, translated from the Polish by Soren Gauger and Marcin Piekoszewski

Eight jazz bands were scattered about the tight square between Rotonda and Dôme, their sharp cleavers of syncopation quartering the live meat of the night into chopped bars of entrails.

Soren Gauger and Marcin Piekoszewski publish an enticing extract from their upcoming translation of Bruno Jasieński’s masterpiece, I Burn Paris. Translated into English for the first time, this sinister and controversial vision of Parisian apocalypse shines a terrifying spotlight on the xenophobia and paranoia at the heart of the modern metropolis.
Also in Asymptote January 2012: Soren Gauger on Bruno Jasieński

Most of the greatest writers seem to have been born at the wrong time, but only a small handful of the truly odd ones feel as though they wouldn’t be quite at home – or embraced – at any time.

In this fascinating study of one of literature’s most controversial figures, Soren Gauger suggests that the true tragedy of Bruno Jasieński is not that he was killed for his Marxist beliefs, but that his political persona may in fact have been one big fiction after all.
EJ
[The image is of I Burn Paris's fabulous Polish cover.] High-res

In Asymptote January 2012: an excerpt from I Burn Paris by Bruno Jasieński, translated from the Polish by Soren Gauger and Marcin Piekoszewski

Eight jazz bands were scattered about the tight square between Rotonda and Dôme, their sharp cleavers of syncopation quartering the live meat of the night into chopped bars of entrails.

Soren Gauger and Marcin Piekoszewski publish an enticing extract from their upcoming translation of Bruno Jasieński’s masterpiece, I Burn Paris. Translated into English for the first time, this sinister and controversial vision of Parisian apocalypse shines a terrifying spotlight on the xenophobia and paranoia at the heart of the modern metropolis.

Also in Asymptote January 2012: Soren Gauger on Bruno Jasieński

Most of the greatest writers seem to have been born at the wrong time, but only a small handful of the truly odd ones feel as though they wouldn’t be quite at home – or embraced – at any time.

In this fascinating study of one of literature’s most controversial figures, Soren Gauger suggests that the true tragedy of Bruno Jasieński is not that he was killed for his Marxist beliefs, but that his political persona may in fact have been one big fiction after all.

EJ

[The image is of I Burn Paris's fabulous Polish cover.]

To Piotr

Fundamentally there is nothing to be sorry about
you know this well Piotr
I’m not speaking to you but through you to others

for half a century you knew my thoughts better
than I did
you translated them patiently

on Cik Ljubin Street
in the white City
on a river now bleeding again

we carried on a long conversation
across the Alps Carpathians Dolomites

and now in my old age
I compose xenias
this is my xenia for you

I once heard an old man recite Homer
I have known people exiled like Dante
I saw all Shakespeare’s plays on stage
I was lucky
you might say born with a silver spoon

explain that to others
I had a wonderful life

I suffered

(Zbigniew Herbert, addressing his translator
translated from the Polish by Alissa Valles)

LYL