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About this poet

Anna Swir (Anna Świrszczyńska)was born in Warsaw, Poland, in 1909. She was the author of Talking to My Body (Copper Canyon Press, 1996) and Happy as a Dog’s Tail (Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1985), both translated by Czeslaw Milosz and Leonard Nathan. She died in Krakow, Poland, in 1984.

Poetry Reading

I’m curled into a ball
like a dog
that is cold.

Who will tell me
why I was born,
why this monstrosity
called life.

The telephone rings. I have to give
a poetry reading.

I enter.
A hundred people, a hundred pairs of eyes.
They look, they wait.
I know for what.

I am supposed to tell them
why they were born,
why there is
this monstrosity called life.

From Talking to My Body, translated by Czeslaw Milosz and Leonard Nathan. Copyright © 1996 Czeslaw Milosz and Leonard Nathan. Used by permission of Copper Canyon Press.

From Talking to My Body, translated by Czeslaw Milosz and Leonard Nathan. Copyright © 1996 Czeslaw Milosz and Leonard Nathan. Used by permission of Copper Canyon Press.

Anna Swir

Anna Swir was the author of Talking to My Body (Copper Canyon Press, 1996). She died in Krakow, Poland, in 1984.