Once we had the world backwards of fowards:
—it was so small, it fit in two clasped hands,
so simple that a smile did to describe it
so common, like old truths echoing in prayers.

History didn't greet us with triumphal fanfares:
—it flung dirty sand into our eyes.
Ahead of us lay long roads leading nowhere,
poisoned wells and bitter bread.

Our wartime loot is knowledge of the world,
—it is so large, it fits in two clasped hands
so hard that a smile does to describe it,
so strange, like old truths echoing in prayers.

1945

Translated from the Polish by Clare Cavanagh.