Jarosław Marek Rymkiewicz
Metempsychosis. The Second Volume of Octastichs

Poetry courageous in its directness, essential due to the gravity of its themes

To be like grass

“To escape with one’s soul and leap upon a small leaf” (…)
Adam Mickiewicz, 1839 or 1840

To be like tall grass on a meadow untrimmed
With its iris see skylarks roaming the blue above free

To be as green snails upon green leaves,
And from there give the world signs so few perceive

Like autumnal rowanberry bunches oh so red
Like the other side of this existence, not so easily read

Come the fall, feed baby hedgehogs at night from
an open palm Be close to life like ivy climbing an evergreen
tree so calm

Two chickadees and titmice sitting on a branch
A blue tit and a European crested tit sit upon a twig
Speaking, and if they speak it means there’s things they twig

The blue tit with a wise head and the crested tit so grey
Round here all creatures great and small try to know and say

Mirabelle plums and the withered apple tree also know such things
Along dead branches their knowledge it forever springs

You too speak, maple tree, oh my trusted friend,
For I am now rather old, my knowledge at an end

A blind poet
Darkness is blind – like me, like poetry
As blind as baby Birch and grown Maple trees

They hold my hand as we walk along
All of us humming the same jolly song.

Blind are the young Birches and Douglas fir trees
True to its nature blind too is poetry

And so we walk along, the two of us – she walking ahead
Blind darkness leading the poet of a blind garden bred

Translated by Marek Kazmierski

Jarosław Marek Rymkiewicz
Metempsychosis. The Second Volume of Octastichs

Poetry courageous in its directness, essential due to the gravity of its themes

Publisher: Fundacja Evviva L’arte, Warszawa 2018
Translation rights: Jarosław Marek Rymkiewicz, fundacja@evvivalarte.org

Jarosław Marek Rymkiewicz is one of Poland’s most renowned poets, being also the author of numerous acclaimed essays, novels and stage plays, as well as the winner of several literary prizes. His work is often inspired by classicism and the Baroque, while his favourite topics include Polish history, national identity, existentialist reflections and the natural world.

In this series of short verses from his latest collection of poetry, he returns to previously explored themes, only this time in a seemingly lighter vein, speaking on a happier note, with a tangible tone of self-depreciation, typical of those reviewing their lives at a point when they feel they are nearing death. Lightly rhymed, at times apparently intentionally naive, epigrammatic or anecdotal, at times in the form of notes on the margins of the said book or additional footnotes: no more than scribbles of words connected by similar sounds, without any specific rhythmic equilibrium, this slim, episodic volume charts the author’s whole life, for in these forty-four verses the poet exposes himself completely…

The first line of the opening poem Deus sive Natura posits the deistic thesis: “God animates Nature, moving every leaf in turn”; a declaration of faith the author will remain committed to until the very end – the end of the book and of his own life it seems, seeing as this rhymed verse will deal with the topic of dying. But it will also be about rebirth, or rather about eternal returns. The poet wanders, but seemingly along the path of unorthodox theology, along tracts closer to scientistic theories of spirituality dating back to the age of enlightened surrealism.

The metaphorical devices used in this treatise resolutely deal with the idea of poking around – digging in garden plots, as well as in books, poking about ageing bodies, or else poking about the corpuscular remains of spiritual substance.

These parallels are delicious; human flesh felt from within, the earthy tangibility of soil, the chokingly dusty air of old libraries. Rymkiewicz, as author and teacher, dissects his own “erudite clay”, a substance he thinks he is composed of, since he was formed of it and will return to it in time. All of this, being closely connected, forms a structure of signs and symbols, arranging itself naturally into a treatise about the nature of things. But his treatise is a work of art, poetry courageous in its directness, essential due to the gravity of its themes. This is a truly rare and thus valuable thing these days. We therefore should take the time to reread this slim yet densely packed book time and time again.

Artur Grabowski, translated by Marek Kazmierski

Selected samples

Szczepan Twardoch
Wojciech Chmielarz
Robert Małecki
Zygmunt Miłoszewski
Anna Piwkowska
Dominika Słowik
Wojciech Chmielewski
Barbara Banaś
Rafał Mikołajczyk
Waldemar Bawołek
Julia Fiedorczuk
Jakub Szamałek
Witold Szabłowski
Jacek Dukaj
Grzegorz Górny, Janusz Rosikoń
Paweł Piechnik
Andrzej Strumiłło


Marta Kwaśnicka
Piotr Mitzner
Paweł Sołtys
Wacław Holewiński
Anna Potyra
Wiesław Helak
Urszula Zajączkowska
Marek Stokowski
Hubert Klimko-Dobrzaniecki
Jakub Małecki
Łukasz Orbitowski
Małgorzata Rejmer
Rafał Wojasiński
Wojciech Kudyba
Włodzimierz Bolecki
Jerzy Liebert
Wojciech Zembaty
Wojciech Chmielarz
Bogdan Musiał
Joanna Siedlecka
Krzysztof Tyszka-Drozdowski
Jarosław Marek Rymkiewicz
Marek Bieńczyk
Leszek Elektorowicz
Adrian Sinkowski
Szymon Babuchowski
Lech Majewski
Weronika Murek
Agnieszka Świętek
Stanisław Szukalski
Barbara Klicka
Anna Kamińska

She climbed her first peaks in a headscarf at a time when women in the mountains were treated by climbers as an additional backpack. It was with her that female alpinism began! She gained recognition in a spectacular way. The path was considered a crossing for madmen. Especially since the tragic accident in 1929, preserved … Continue reading “Halina”

Wojciech Chmielarz

First, Marysia, a student of an exclusive private school in Warsaw’s Mokotów district, dies under the wheels of a train. Her teacher, Elżbieta, tries to find out what really happened. She starts a private investigation only soon to perish herself. But her body disappears, and the only people who have seen anything are Gniewomir, a … Continue reading “Wound”

Anna Kańtoch

A young girl, Regina Wieczorek, was found dead on the beach. She was nineteen years old and had no enemies. Fortunately, the culprit was quickly found. At least, that’s what the militia think. Meanwhile, one day in November, Jan Kowalski appears at the police station. He claims to have killed not only Regina but also … Continue reading “Penance”

Marek Krajewski

The year is 1922. A dangerous time of breakthrough. In the Eastern Borderlands of the Republic of Poland, Bolshevik gangs sow terror, leaving behind the corpses of men and disgraced women. A ruthless secret intelligence race takes place between the Lviv-Warsaw-Free City of Gdańsk line. Lviv investigator Edward Popielski, called Łysy (“Hairless”), receives an offer … Continue reading “A Girl with Four Fingers”

Ks. Tomasz Stępień

This question is closely related to the next one, namely: if any goal exists, does life lead us to that goal in an orderly manner? In other words, is everything that happens to us just a set of chaotic events that, combined together, do not form a whole? To understand how the concept of providence … Continue reading “Order and Love”

Jakub Małecki
Szczepan Twardoch
Wiesław Helak
Maria Wilczek-Krupa
Anna Kańtoch
Rafał Kosik
Paweł Sołtys
Dorota Masłowska
Wiesław Myśliwski
Martyna Bunda
Olga Tokarczuk
Various authors
Mariola Kruszewska
Waldemar Bawołek
Marek Oleksicki, Tobiasz Piątkowski
Wojciech Tomczyk
Urszula Zajączkowska
Marzanna Bogumiła Kielar
Ks. Robert Skrzypczak
Bronisław Wildstein
Anna Bikont
Magdalena Grzebałkowska
Wojciech Orliński
Klementyna Suchanow
Andrzej Franaszek
Natalia Budzyńska
Marian Sworzeń
Aleksandra Wójcik, Maciej Zdziarski
Józef Łobodowski

The work of Józef Łobodowski (1909-1988) – a remarkable poet, prose writer, and translator, who spent most of his life in exile – is slowly being revived in Poland. Łobodowski’s brilliant three- volume novel, composed on an epic scale, concerns the fate of families and orphans unmoored by the Bolshevik Revolution and civil war and … Continue reading “Ukrainian Trilogy: Thickets, The Settlement, The Way Back”

Piotr Zaremba
Wacław Holewiński
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