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Stanisław Barańczak

If porcelain, then only the kind
you won’t miss under the shoe of a mover or the tread of a tank;
if a chair, then not too comfortable, lest
there be regret in getting up and leaving;
if clothing, then just so much as can fit in a suitcase,
if books, then those which can be carried in the memory,
if plans, then those which can be overlooked
when the time comes for the next move
to another street, continent, historical period
or world:

who told you that you were permitted to settle in?
who told you that this or that would last forever?
did no one ever tell you that you will never
in the world
feel at home in the world?


Stanisław Barańczak
Polish poet, literary critic, scholar, editor, translator and lecturer (1946 – 2014).

(Translated from Polish by Frank Kujawinski)

Edvard Munch: Melancholy  / painting 1894 / oil on canvas / 81 cm (31.8 in); 100.5 cm (39.5 in)