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Scott Lax Blog

In Remembrance of September 11, 2001

Right after the terrible events of September 11, 2001, The New Yorker published a poem on its back page. It's become one of my favorite poems. I've read about its origins (it wasn't written for 9-11, but, such is art, it fit the moment). I reprint it here with gratitude to the Polish poet, Adam Zagajewski, as well as The New Yorker for printing it. I use this poem in my classroom frequently, as a way of showing power of writing, of poetry, to find beauty and meaning in the world even in the face of the worst circumstances.

Try To Praise The Mutilated World

By Adam Zagajewski

Try to praise the mutilated world.
Remember June's long days,
and wild strawberries, drops of wine, the dew.
The nettles that methodically overgrow
the abandoned homesteads of exiles.
You must praise the mutilated world.
You watched the stylish yachts and ships;
one of them had a long trip ahead of it,
while salty oblivion awaited others.
You've seen the refugees heading nowhere,
you've heard the executioners sing joyfully.
You should praise the mutilated world.
Remember the moments when we were together
in a white room and the curtain fluttered.
Return in thought to the concert where music flared.
You gathered acorns in the park in autumn
and leaves eddied over the earth's scars.
Praise the mutilated world
and the grey feather a thrush lost,
and the gentle light that strays and vanishes
and returns.

Translated by Renata Gorczynski  Read More