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NORWID, Cyprian

Chopin’s Piano


Look! … from alley to alley

Caucasian horses break forth

Like swallows ahead of a storm,

Ahead of their regiments, darting,

By hundreds – by hundreds –

– The town house caught fire, died down,

Then flared up again – And there – Under the wall

Saw the foreheads of widows in mourning

Pushed back by rifle butts –

And again, smokeblinded, I saw,

As it moved past the portal, the pillars,

A contraption that looked like a coffin

They were heaving out … crashing and crushing – your piano!


That one! … that championed Poland, he from the heights

All-Perfections of history

People-bound, anthem ecstatic –

O Poland – of wheelwrights transformed;

That same one – crushed on the granite squares!

– Over there: as the thoughts of the just man

Are drowned in the popular anger

Or as, from age unto age,

All its angers awaken!

And right there – like Orpheus’ body,

A thousand nailed passions tear him to shreds

And each one howling: “Not me! …

Not me!” – with a clatter and chatter of teeth –

Is it you? – is it me? – then let’s strike up a Judgment Day song,

Urge them on: “Rejoice, o you child who will be! …

With groaning – stories gone deaf:

The Ideal – now brought low on the pavement” –