Living Words: On Ryszard Krynicki’s Magnetic Point and Our Life Grows

Ryszard Krynicki, Magnetic Point: Selected Poems 1968-2014,
trans. by Clare Cavanagh (New Directions, 2017, 227 pp., $18.95)
and
Our Life Grows,
trans. by Alissa Valles (New York Review of Books, 2017, 157 pp., $14.95)

Sometime in the late eighties, when I was growing up in Poland and just beginning to discover contemporary poetry, I came across this poem by Ryszard Krynicki:

Nie mogę ci pomóc”

Biedna ćmo, nie mogę ci pomóc,
mogę tylko zgasić światło.

“I Can’t Help You”

Poor moth, I can’t help you,
I can only turn out the light.