karol wojtyla | song of the brightness of water | refrain

17 04 2008

Poetry Dispatch No. 228 | April 17, 2008

Song of the Brightness of Water

From the depth—I came only to draw water
in a jug—so long ago, this brightness
still clings to my eyes—the perception I found,
and so much empty space, my own,
reflected in the well.

Yet it is good. I can never take all of you
into me. Stay then as mirror in the well.
Leaves and flowers remain, and each astonished gaze
brings them down
to my eyes transfixed more by light
than by sorrow.

Refrain

When I think, my Country, I look for a road running upward,
like a high-voltage current cutting through slopes. This road
is in each of us, steep and upward, not allowing us to stop.

The road follows the same slopes, returns to the same places,
becomes a great silence visiting the tired lungs of my land
evening after evening.

Ed. Note: From THE PLACE WITHIN translated by Jerzy Peterkiewicz, Random House, 1982, $12.95

Karol Wojtyla was born in 1920 in Wadowice, Poland. After studying literature and drama in Kracow, in worked in a stone quarry and a chemical plant before he began studying for the priesthood in1942. He was ordained in 1946 and in l958 was named bishop of Kracow. He became archbishop in 1964 and a cardinal in l978. On October 16, 1978, Wojtyla was elected pope. He took the name John Paul II, in honor of his short-lived and much loved predecessor, John Paul I. It was only after he was elected pope that his poetry came to world-wide attention. Norbert Blei

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