True Life

True Life

A stunning, intimate collection by the late great Polish poet Adam Zagajewski.

. . . I think I sought wisdom

(without resignation) in poems
and also a certain calm madness.
I found, much later, a moment's joy
and melancholy's dark contentment.

In True Life, the Polish writer Adam Zagajewski, one of the world's most admired and beloved poets, turns his gaze to the past with piercing clarity and a tone of wry, lyrical melancholy. He captures the rhythms of a city street on the page and the steady beat of the passage of time against it ("Roads cannot be destroyed // Even if peonies cover them / smelling like eternity") and writes of the endless struggle between stasis and change, between movement and stillness ("We knew / it would be the same / as always // It would all go back to normal").

Mary Oliver called Zagajewski "the most pertinent, impressive, meaningful poet of our time," and Philip Boehm wrote in The New York Times Book Review that his poems "pull us from whatever routine threatens to dull our senses, from whatever might lull us into mere existence." True Life, first published in Polish in 2019 and translated with genius by Clare Cavanagh, reveals the astonishing, immortal depths of Zagajewski's insight and artistry.

Publication Date: 
February 20, 2024