Adam Zagajewski (1945-2021)

Adam Zagajewski was one of Poland's greatest poets, a kind human being, and a friend. He passed away on Saturday, March 21st. He was a faculty member at the University of Chicago's Committee on Social Thought.

"The Great Poet Has Gone" by Adam Zagajewski

Thinking of C.M.

Of course nothing changes
in the ordinary light of day,
when the great poet has gone.
Gray sparrows and dapper starlings
still squabble heatedly
in the tops of ancient elms.

When the great poet has gone,
the city doesn't miss a beat, the metro
and the trams still seek a modern Grail.
In the library a lovely girl
looks in vain for a poem that could explain it all.

At noon the same noise surges,
while quiet concentration reigns at night,
among the stars- eternal agitation.
Soon the discotheques will open,
indifference will open-
although the great poet has died.

When we part for a long while
or forever from someone we love,
we suddenly sense there are no words,
we must speak for ourselves now,
there's no one to do it for us
- since the great poet is gone.

(translated by Clare Cavanagh)