Elegy on ... [a Polish Boy]

by Krzysztof Kamil Baczyński

(1921-1944)

 

From dreams that like butterflies quiver—my son—they sundered you,

And embroidered your sad eyes with blood’s ruddy scarlet hue;

And whole landscapes they adorned in stitches of blazes yellow,

In a sea of swaying trees, sewed in scaffolds of your hanged fellow.

 

They taught you, my little boy, to know your land by heart,

As you blazed her very trails shedding iron tears.

They raised you in the dark, weaned you on a loaf of fears;

You were left to grope your path through the basest human part.

 

And into the night you went, my bright son, armed with but a dark gun,

And you felt how evil bristles in each minute’s sound.

Before you fell, with your hand you crossed the earth first.

Was it a bullet, my little boy, or a heart that burst?

 

March 20, 1944

Translated from the Polish
by Piotr J. Małysz