In the Lemko Graveyard

Jerzy Harasymowicz (1933–1999) was a Polish poet whose work displays a great affinity with the Lemko community from the Carpathian region of south-eastern Poland. His first volume Wonders (Cuda) appeared in 1956, around the same time as the debut collections of Miron Białoszewski, Stanisław Czycz, Bohdan Drozdowski and Zbigniew Herbert. The poetry of this generation of writers represents a milestone in twentieth- century Polish literature, signalling a clear departure from the social-realist poetry of the day. Harasymowicz went on to publish over sixty collections of poetry and his work has recently been the study of a major scholarly assessment by Ewa Stańczyk: Contact Zone Identities in the Poetry of Jerzy Harasymowicz: A Postcolonial Analysis (Peter Lang, 2012).

This poem is taken from Jerzy HarasymowiczWybór wierszy 1955-1973 [Jerzy Harasymowicz: Selected Poems 1955-1973], Kraków: Wydawnictwo Literackie, 1975.


 

Na cmentarz łemkowski

Oto cmentarz
ziełem zarosły
Oto poręba
po krzyżach zwalonychWiatrołom
świętego drzewa

Oto cmentarze Łemków
W Złockiem
w Szczawniku
w Leluchowie

Oto śpią na podłodze
Dawno już spróchniałej
Bez krzyża nad głową

Fiłypy
Nykyfory
Włodzimierze

Jesień im tylko
ostu zapala
świecę

Liści szumi
wieniec

Czort niepotrzebny
chyłkiem w zarośla
czmycha

This graveyard
overgrown with weeds
This clearing
of stone cross ruinsThe holy tree
windfallen

These Lemko graveyards
In Złockie
in Szczawnik
in Leluchów

Here sleeping on the ground
Long since decayed
Without a cross at their heads

Fiłyps
Nykyfors
Włodzimierzes

Autumn alone
lights a candle of thistle
for them

Leaves rustle
in wreaths

An unwanted bad spirit
darts stealthily off
through the brushwood


Jerzy Harasymowicz
trans. John Kearns