Miłosz Biedrzycki’s poems are full of humor, longing, and a vibrancy that is rare in even the best of today’s poets—in any language. Each of the images in each of these poems is a surprise. But like the various pieces in a kaleidoscope, they come together to form a whole that is as interesting and compelling as it is surprising. His poems, then, are a like little sudden revelations to their readers.

Miłosz shies away from no linguistic challenge, and this intrepidness makes these poems—and all the rest of his work—a particular treat to read. Miłosz draws on his extensive knowledge of the natural world as well as urban landscapes, takes ideas from the quotidian and the extraordinary, from his homeland and from his countless travels to countless other lands. “Sofastrophe” is as touching as it is inventive and playful, and “From the Sandbar” has all the mystery and allure of a lonely evening in the Polish countryside.

--Jennifer Croft


I come to you spread out like a siphonophore.

You take your ball and you juke me.

Only ambition sticks up on me like the pole that connects

the bumper car to the electric ceiling.

You juke me.  It’s not a spire,


it’s not a tower, it doesn’t connect the clouds to the dusty square,

to the particles in the air, to the slide tackles in the sand and gravel.

Seeing and feeling, clearer and more, in a tower

that is level, portable, connecting legs to heads.  At dawn


the tunnel opens, you say, and up swims the fish.

What kind of fish is this that swims up tunnels?

Can it go bad head first?  From the legs?  From the back?

The tunnel, you say, you juke

me, slide tackles—


From the Sandbar

How much is a second withdrawal?

The dream about the curly-headed man

with the haversack, in Krynica-on-Sea,

putting his notes from Krynica Springs together.

The word on the street is transport alone isn’t enough.

But what of the demon of rhythm, catching at the throat,

huffing, coarse?  It‘s late,

the moon totters belly down,

the Pleiades in the water.  The ghost dunes are white.

Being a moon jelly, being a hydrozoan.

A dandelion, or maybe thistle.  If the legend of Ocean’s Eye Lake were true,

the tunnel would have to be very long.

Going for it head first and poof.  There are your Ponds:

Red, Black, two Green, five Polish,

a malunion between the wrist and the elbow.

A brown butterfly positions itself against the air,

breath wheezes.  A locomotive pierces

the inside of the wardrobe.  A bolt of sound

looses the knees, the foot gets stuck

between the sleeper and the rail.  My heart is pricked

by longing.  Or maybe that’s an infection.  On the side

of the dune—of the foothill—along the tracks—


                             Translated from the Polish by Jennifer Croft and the author

Jennifer Croft is completing a PhD in Comparative Literary Studies at Northwestern University, where she is working on twentieth-century Central European and Latin American fiction. Her translations of essays on Nietzsche, edited by Vanessa Lemm, were published by Fordham University Press in 2009.  Her translations from Polish have appeared in World Literature Today, Words Without Borders, Absinthe, and are forthcoming in Best European Fiction 2012.