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Julian Tuwim

Polish Flowers

A box with paints from childhood's time:
The colors of town are earth and grime.
An old worker at a dark doorway squats,
The spuds in his bowl are powdery dry.
It's a face of yellowish and gray spots
In the midst of hunger, cold, dirt and slime.

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The Dancing Socrates

I roast in the sun, old wretch...
I lie, and yawn, I stretch.
Old am I, but full of pep:
When I take a slug from the cup
I sing.
My ancient bones bask in the sun's glow,
And my curly, wise, grey head.
In that wise head, like woods in spring
Hums and hums a wiser wine.
Eternal thoughts flow and flow,
Like time.

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Grass

Grass, grass up to my knees!
Grow up to the sky
So that there won't seem to be
Any you or I

So that I will turn all green
And blossom to my bones,
So that my words won't come between
Your freshness and my own.

So that for the two of us
There will be one name:
Either for both of us - grass,
Or both both of us - tuwim.

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Wife

My husband is idle, is dumb and spends money.
He either stands still at the window or runs about town like a bunny.

He stares and he stares, at a tram, at the sky.
He mutters, he whistles: he rummages over the house like an amateur spy.

And then he reads books: he turns their pages at least.
There are books in the kitchen and cellar; folios mixed with the yeast.

But what is he thinking about? what does my husband mumble?
When he tries to speak he gets nervous: piles of words flurry and tumble.

In the evening he drinks, and I feel angry enough
When I see his dear eyes getting misted up with that stuff.

His eyes are misted. He takes one more dram.
He kneels down beside me and lays his head on my arm.
It is only then that I learn for the first time who I am.

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The Saturday Night Song

Hooray, the echo will resound throughout the wide square,
When a sincere drunkard's song emanates from my throat;
Tonight I'll be lapping up a smoky pub's atmosphere,
I'm bloody well going to get sloshed, buzzed and somewhere float.

My spirit gorged, I'll bang the table with my strong fist,
Searching for a little brightness from these gloomy days-
Take no more you soft touch! Liberty! May the vile twists
Of my ricketed brats in the garret rot away.

I'll drink-smash everything in sight but never mind,
I'll pay myself! Can I not afford to break a glass or two?
I can, you bastards! With the rubles from my black grind
I could even have two dozen mistresses to woo.

I smash-because I feel like it! Hang it all! Freedom! I've power!
Run, spirit, till dawn. Out of the way. Today we rule!
And when I leave the pub with hands in the pocket of my trousers
I'll stagger wide down the drunken street, nobody's fool!

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The Common Man

When plastered billboards scream with slogans
'fight for your country, go to battle'
When media's print assults your senses,
'Support our leaders' shrieks and rattles...
And fools who don't know any better
Believe the old, eternal lie
That we must march and shoot and kill
Murder, and burn, and bomb, and grill...

When press begins the battle-cry
That nation needs to unify
And for your country you must die...
Dear brainwashed friend, my neighbor dear
Brother from this, or other nation
Know that the cries of anger, fear,
Are nothing but manipulation
by fat-cats, kings who covet riches,
And feed off your sweat and blood - the leeches!
When call to arms engulfs the land
It means that somewhere oil was found,

[...] Read more

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The Locomotive

A big locomotive has pulled into town,
Heavy, humungus, with sweat rolling down,
A plump jumbo olive.
Huffing and puffing and panting and smelly,
Fire belches forth from her fat cast iron belly.

Poof, how she's burning,
Oof, how she's boiling,
Puff, how she's churning,
Huff, how she's toiling.
She's fully exhausted and all out of breath,
Yet the coalman continues to stoke her to death.

Numerous wagons she tugs down the track:
Iron and steel monsters hitched up to her back,
All filled with people and other things too:
The first carries cattle, then horses not few;
The third car with corpulent people is filled,
Eating fat frankfurters all freshly grilled.
The fourth car is packed to the hilt with bananas,

[...] Read more

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