"He searched for a means, when writing, to preserve, unspoken, the presence of horror between his words and lines."

Czesław Miłosz, from Road-side Dog


We fall asleep on words
we wake in words

sometimes they are gentle
simple nouns
a forest a ship

they tear themselves from us
the forest goes quickly
behind the line of the horizon

the ship sails away
without a trace or a reason

dangerous are the words
which have fallen from a whole
fragments of sentences maxims
the beginning of a refrain
of a forgotten hymn

"saved will be those who…"
“remember to…”
or “like”
a small prickly pin
that connected
the most beautiful
lost metaphor of the world

one must dream patiently
hoping the content will become complete
that the missing words
will enter their crippled sentences
and the certainty we wait for
will cast anchor


Zbigniew Herbert, A Box Called the Imagination (trans. John & Bogdana Carpenter)

"The medicine of words—medicina verbi."

Anna Kamienska, from A Nest of Quiet: A Notebook

(Source: poetryfoundation.org)


"A poet is a person translated into words."

Anna Kamienska, from Industrious Amazement: A Notebook

"We cling to words like drowning men to straws. But still we drown, we drown."

Anna Kamienska, from In That Great River: A Notebook

"I understood, in short, that the more words I knew, the richer, fuller, and more variegated would be the world that opened before me, and which I could capture."

Ryszard Kapuściński, Travels with Herodotus (trans. Klara Glowczewska)

"Without words, without writing and without books there would be no history, there could be no concept of humanity."

Hermann Hesse

"Words are all we have."

Samuel Beckett

Tags: words beckett lit
"The way a source strains toward the light, toward the air. Its laboring work, its effort, its black passageways like despair. That’s the way a poet looks for words. With muscles, gestures."

Anna Kamieńska, from her Diary, 1970

"But words are things, and a small drop of ink,
Falling like dew, upon a thought, produces
That which makes thousands, perhaps millions, think."

from Don Juan, Byron

"Here I am, trying to give an account of something, and as soon as I pause I realize that I have not yet said anything at all. A marvelously luminous, viscid substance is left behind me, defying words. Is it the language I did not understand there, and that must now gradually find its translation in me? There were incidents, images, sounds, the meaning of which is only now emerging; that words neither recorded nor edited; that are beyond words, deeper and more equivocal than words….What is there in language? What does it conceal? What does it rob one of?"

from The Voices of Marrakesh, Elias Canetti (trans. J. A. Underwood)