They kept you, little son, from dreams like trembling butterflies,
they wove you, little son, in dark red blood two mournful eyes,
they painted landscapes with the yellow stitch of conflagrations,
they decorated all with hangmen’s trees the flowing oceans.
They taught you, little son, to know by heart your land of birth
as you were carving out with tears of iron its many paths.
They reared you in the darkness and fed you on terror’s bread;
you traveled gropingly that shamefulest of human roads.
And then you left, my lovely son, with your black gun at midnight,
and felt the evil prickling in the sound of each new minute.
Before you fell, over the land you raised your hand in blessing.
Was it a bullet killed you, son, or was it your heart bursting?
March 20, 1944
Elegy on a Polish boy, from: Baczynski, Krzysztof Kamil. White Magic and Other Poems.
Bill Johnston translator. Green Integer, 2004.
Warsaw Uprising 1944