the gate

Tadeusz Różewicz

Translated by Joanna Trzeciak
Lasciate ogni speranza
Voi ch'entrate
abandon all hope
ye who enter here
the inscription at the entrance to the inferno
of Dante's Divine Comedy
behind that gate
there is no hell
hell has been dismantled
by theologians
and deep psychologists
converted into allegory
for humanitarian and educational
behind that gate
the same thing begins again
two drunken grave-diggers
sit at the edge of a hole
they're drinking non-alcoholic beer
and munching on sausage
winking at us
under the cross
they play soccer
with Adam's skull
the hole awaits
tomorrow's corpse
the "stiff" is on its way
here we will await
the final judgment
water gathers in the hole
cigarette butts are floating in it
behind that gate
there will neither be history
nor goodness nor poetry
and what will there be
dear stranger?
there will be stones
upon stone
stone upon stone
and on that stone
one more
From Sobbing Superpower by Tadeusz Różewicz. Copyright © 2010 by Tadeusz Różewicz and Joanna Trzeciak. Used by permission of W. W. Norton & Company.

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