Translating 'Shadow' by Tomasz Rozycki

The following is my attempt at translating a Polish poem by Tomasz Rozycki into English. And before I do this, let me just describe my process which might be different from others. 

When I undertake translations, my goal is to condense the text to a minimal number of words. This approach is particularly crucial for video translations, where brevity enhances the conveyance of information because frames are changing rapidly, and viewer has a shorter time to comprehend. 

Beyond the efficiency gained from succinct translations, there exists an additional advantage. Translating between languages is akin to crafting something entirely new, as certain nuances or expressions from the original language may not have direct counterparts in the target language. Consequently, this process involves a creative reimagining, allowing for the articulation of ideas in a manner that may be more artful or nuanced in the new language. The key lies in preserving the essence of the poet's message; as long as the core meaning remains intact, variations in expression or shade of meaning are not only acceptable but can also contribute to the richness of the translation.

Translated by Shivpreet Singh

I leave you places where I am not
Like one on the Odra, one on the Skalki,
plus beds, some lofts and a mattress.
Especially the mattress. It'll be easier for me

so you can fill them and become fuller
in the places left and remaining,
in other words, everywhere else. Standing in the shadow
you look at me as I enter the gate

and a crack, and I'm gone. I fill-write to you,
what crumbled, what burned, what changed
form and condition, which is devoured in the grave
because of a fat worm is now clay,

grass, tree, chamomile. Be there, please, rule
then, as you wish, put on my clothes and shoes
take out the table, drink with your neighbors.
My letters against your minutes. 

BY Tomasz Różycki

To you, I leave the places where I’m absent.
That one along the Oder, another at the Reservoir,
apart from those some beds and attics, a mattress.
Especially the mattress. It’ll be much easier

to think of you as filling them, growing and going
rampant in places vacated and those that still remain,
to say it plain—everywhere else. From the shadows
perhaps you’re watching me pass through the gate

and snap, I’m gone, no longer. I bequeath to you
what falls apart, burns down, what shifts in shape,
what changes its own state, what’s been consumed
in the grave by a fat worm and is already clay

and grass and wood and chamomile. Please live there
and use it how you want, climb into my clothes and put
yourself in my shoes, set up a table, drink with the neighbors.
It’s my word, these letters against you and your minutes.
Translated from the Polish


Tobie zostawiam miejsca, w których już mnie nie ma.
Takie miejsce nad Odrą i jedno na Skałkach,
poza tym łóżka, kilka strychów i materac.
A zwłaszcza materac. Będzie mi dużo łatwiej,

z myślą, że wypełnisz je sobą, że się plenisz
w miejscach pozostawionych oraz w pozostałych,
słowem—że wszędzie indziej. I że stojąc w cieniu
może patrzysz tak na mnie, jak wchodzę do bramy

i trzask, i już mnie nie ma. Zapisuje tobie,
to, co się rozpadło, spłonęło, co zmieniło
swoją postać i stan swój, co zeżarte w grobie
przez grubego robaka teraz jest już gliną,

trawą, drzewem, rumiankiem. Bądź tam, proszę, władaj
tym tak jak zechcesz, wejdź w moje ubranie, buty
moje załóż, stół wynieś, wypij z sąsiadami.
Moje litery przeciwko twoim minutom.