Polish poems by Jan Twardowski


One of Poland’s most beloved and prolific poets is an unassuming priest who writes poetry about God, man’s relationship to God, Mary, the saints, the soul, and religious conscience, to merely touch on his subjects.

Father Jan Twardowski’s poetry is his pulpit. In searching for spiritual answers through his verses, he gently and sometimes humorously, helps us devise answers of our own. Answers that will help us to believe, even when belief seems absurd. Twardowski lures the reader into his poems with his charming images, then drops a spiritual insight like a little time bomb that astonishes in its seeming simplicity and great depth. His poetry is accessible, vivid, and a joy to translate. It makes the reader a better person for having “visited” with Poland’s favorite priest and poet, particularly in this Lenten season.

Jan Jakub Twardowski (June 1, 1915 – January 18, 2006) was a famous Polish poet, but, as he said of himself, he was a priest first of all. He was a chief Polish representative of contemporary religious lyrics.  He wrote short, simple poems, humorous, sometimes with colloquialisms. He joins observation of nature with philosophical reflexion. ( http://voiceseducation.org/node/3819)

Because Dlatego

Not because you rose from the grave
not because you entered Heaven
but because someone tripped you
you were slapped in the face
your neck contorted like
a heron’s on the cross

you died as God not like a God
without medicine or a wet towel
on your head
you had eyes biker than war
for the dead in rows like forget-me-nots
because wet with tears I raise you
repeatedly in Mass
like a lamb pulled up by his ears.
(p. 39 Blisko Jezusa)

In line For Heaven
W Kolejce Do Nieba

Take it easy not so fast
please don’t push
at first you have to look like
a saint not be one
then neither be a saint
nor look like one
then be a saint in such a way
that it doesn’t show at all
and only at the very end
does a saint begin to resemble a saint.

(p. 51 Milosc Za Bog Zaplac)

No Angel Helped
Żaden Anioł Nie Pomógł

As He was dying on the cross
there weren’t any miracles
no angel came to help Him
rain did not cool his head
the lightning was daydreaming
struck elsewhere
the resourceful Holy Mother
did not arrive with a miracle
Faith means trusting when there are
no miracles
A miracle means well
but obstructs Faith.

(p. 95 Blisko Jezusa)

Jesus – worried the pastor
You only proclaim truth
You don’t travel West to earn money
for a house
In Russia things have eased up,
but you stay in hiding
You don’t build a church from cinderblocks
but from living hearts instead
you don’t put aside for a rainy day
how will You ever manage in life?

(p. 28 Wiersze)

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