View Full Version : RIP Stanislaw Baranczak

William Haskins
01-07-2015, 03:08 AM
Stanislaw Baranczak, a Polish poet and essayist who defied state censors to write about living under Communist oppression and who later emigrated to the United States, where he taught at Harvard, wrote in English about living in exile and translated Polish masters into English and English masters into Polish, died on Dec. 26 at his home in Newton, Mass. He was 68.

He had Parkinsonís disease, but the immediate cause of death was pneumonia, according to Clare A. Cavanagh, a friend who collaborated with Mr. Baranczak on several translations.

A writer who combined broad learning with sly incisiveness, Mr. Baranczak was widely considered a ďdissidentĒ poet for his subtly acerbic political poems and his activism. In the 1970s he was banned from publishing in Poland (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/international/countriesandterritories/poland/index.html?inline=nyt-geo), though he continued to write for underground outlets, and his work became a samizdat pass-around.

This Is Not a Conversation for the Telephone
(Stanislaw Baranczak)

Well letís assume itís yes, but this is not a conversation
for the telephone, you know, our ears
have vigilant listeners, so letís just prepare it in
a language foreign to them and us, and donít say ďyesĒ
before you translate it;

well letís admit itís yes, but this is not
convenient for the moment, you know, our
walls have sensitive ears, so letís just preserve it
for later, keep it and donít say
ďyesĒ before you wait it out;

well letís agree itís yes but this is not
a condition forever, you know,
our souls have thin walls, so letís just presume
it for today, for a while, and donít
say ďyesĒ before you delete it;

well it must be no, but this
is not a conclusion for a real,
you know, our listeners have sensitive souls, so letís
pretend for now that we protest, and
donít say ďnoĒ before you apologize.

Translated by Valeria Wasilewski

01-07-2015, 07:58 AM
Truly a loss among the living


William Haskins
01-07-2015, 08:19 AM
very much so.

01-07-2015, 08:54 AM
I have a copy of "Carnivorous Boy, Carnivorous Bird" - poetry from Poland. Sadly he is not in it. The time of his birth was not covered. I will get a used copy of his work from Amazon.