Unleash in Ukraine - Country #9

Lviv (Lvov) Travel Blog

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View of Lviv's historic town center

 

LVIV – ADAM ZAGAJEWSKi

 

Adam Zagajewski is a well-known contemporary poet who was born in Lvov, Poland, now Lviv, Ukraine.  His poem To Go To Lvov depicts an imaginary journey that involves looking backward into the lost world of childhood.

 

TO GO TO LVOV

By Adam Zagajewski (2002)

Translated by Clare Cavanagh

 

To go to Lvov. Which station

for Lvov, if not in a dream, at dawn, when dew

gleams on a suitcase, when express

trains and bullet trains are being born. To leave

in haste for Lvov, night or day, in September

or in March.

Dominican Cathedral, built in 1772
But only if Lvov exists,

if it is to be found within the frontiers and not just

in my new passport, if lances of trees

—of poplar and ash—still breathe aloud

like Indians, and if streams mumble

their dark Esperanto, and grass snakes like soft signs

in the Russian language disappear

into thickets. To pack and set off, to leave

without a trace, at noon, to vanish

like fainting maidens. And burdocks, green

armies of burdocks, and below, under the canvas

of a Venetian café, the snails converse

about eternity. But the cathedral rises,

you remember, so straight, as straight

as Sunday and white napkins and a bucket

full of raspberries standing on the floor, and

my desire which wasn’t born yet,

only gardens and weeds and the amber

of Queen Anne cherries, and indecent Fredro.

There was always too much of Lvov, no one could

comprehend its boroughs, hear

the murmur of each stone scorched

by the sun, at night the Orthodox church’s silence was unlike

that of the cathedral, the Jesuits

baptized plants, leaf by leaf, but they grew,

grew so mindlessly, and joy hovered

everywhere, in hallways and in coffee mills

revolving by themselves, in blue

teapots, in starch, which was the first

formalist, in drops of rain and in the thorns

of roses.

Korniakt Bell Tower
Frozen forsythia yellowed by the window.

The bells pealed and the air vibrated, the cornets

of nuns sailed like schooners near

the theater, there was so much of the world that

it had to do encores over and over,

the audience was in frenzy and didn’t want

to leave the house. My aunts couldn’t have known

yet that I’d resurrect them,

and lived so trustfully; so singly;

servants, clean and ironed, ran for

fresh cream, inside the houses

a bit of anger and great expectation, Brzozowski

came as a visiting lecturer, one of my

uncles kept writing a poem entitled Why,

dedicated to the Almighty, and there was too much

of Lvov, it brimmed the container,

it burst glasses, overflowed

each pond, lake, smoked through every

chimney, turned into fire, storm,

laughed with lightning, grew meek,

returned home, read the New Testament,

slept on a sofa beside the Carpathian rug,

there was too much of Lvov, and now

there isn’t any, it grew relentlessly

and the scissors cut it, chilly gardeners

as always in May, without mercy,

without love, ah, wait till warm June

comes with soft ferns, boundless

fields of summer, i.

Taras Shevchenko Monument
e., the reality.

But scissors cut it, along the line and through

the fiber, tailors, gardeners, censors

cut the body and the wreaths, pruning shears worked

diligently, as in a child’s cutout

along the dotted line of a roe deer or a swan.

Scissors, penknives, and razor blades scratched,

cut, and shortened the voluptuous dresses

of prelates, of squares and houses, and trees

fell soundlessly, as in a jungle,

and the cathedral trembled, people bade goodbye

without handkerchiefs, no tears, such a dry

mouth, I won’t see you anymore, so much death

awaits you, why must every city

become Jerusalem and every man a Jew,

and now in a hurry just

pack, always, each day,

and go breathless, go to Lvov, after all

it exists, quiet and pure as

a peach.

Potocki Palace-now Lviv Art Gallery
It is everywhere.

jwilsonwsu says:
Sounds like an amazing vacation. Very jealous
Posted on: Oct 11, 2007
tvillingmarit says:
Wish I was there.
Posted on: Oct 09, 2007
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View of Lvivs historic town center
View of Lviv's historic town center
Dominican Cathedral, built in 1772
Dominican Cathedral, built in 1772
Korniakt Bell Tower
Korniakt Bell Tower
Taras Shevchenko Monument
Taras Shevchenko Monument
Potocki Palace-now Lviv Art Gallery
Potocki Palace-now Lviv Art Gallery
Auto store outside Lviv
Auto store outside Lviv
Rynok Square-established 14th cent.
Rynok Square-established 14th cent.
Beautiful church domes
Beautiful church domes
High Castle Hill, Lvivs summit
High Castle Hill, Lviv's summit
Leo I (Halych) built castle on hill
Leo I (Halych) built castle on hill
Constructed in 12th cent.-now ruins
Constructed in 12th cent.-now ruins
Ukrainian flag on observation deck
Ukrainian flag on observation deck
Unique statue in High Castle Park
Unique statue in High Castle Park
Tree growing despite obstacles
Tree growing despite obstacles
Named for one of Ukraines heroes
Named for one of Ukraine's heroes
St. George-Ukraine Catholic Church
St. George-Ukraine Catholic Church
St. John the Baptist Church
St. John the Baptist Church
Lviv Opera & Ballet Theater
Lviv Opera & Ballet Theater
Downtown outdoor cafe
Downtown outdoor cafe
Restaurant outside shopping mall
Restaurant outside shopping mall
CD store in outdoor shopping area
CD store in outdoor shopping area
Restaurant & Bar (Pectopah & Bap)
Restaurant & Bar (Pectopah & Bap)
Nice, Mark - park on trolley tracks
Nice, Mark - park on trolley tracks
Trolley - Ill get you next time
Trolley - "I'll get you next time"
Lviv (Lvov)
photo by: SylwiaG