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White Magic and Other Poems (Green Integer) [Paperback]

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Item description for White Magic and Other Poems (Green Integer) by Krzysztof Kamil Baczynski & Bill Johnson...

Regarded by the Poles as one of the greatest Polish poets of the 20th century, Baczynski ranks alongside with Czeslaw Milosz, Zbigniew Herbert and Wislawa Szymborska in his homeland, yet is is virtually unknown to English language readers, which this volume hopes to correct. Baczynski died in 1944, involved with the Warsaw Uprising against Nazi control.

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Item Specifications...

Pages   187
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 0.25" Width: 4.75" Height: 6"
Weight:   0.3 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Oct 1, 2004
Publisher   Green Integer
ISBN  1931243816  
ISBN13  9781931243810  

Availability  0 units.

More About Krzysztof Kamil Baczynski & Bill Johnson

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! The great Polish poet was killed in the Warsaw Uprising of 1944.

Krzysztof Kamil Baczynski was born in 1921 and died in 1944.

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Reviews - What do customers think about White Magic and Other Poems (Green Integer)?

Terrible translation of one of the best Polish poets of the 20th century  Jul 31, 2008
After reading Bill Johnston's attempt at translating Krzysztof Kamil Baczynski's poetry one could easily assume that Baczynski was not all that talented and quickly lose interest in reading his poems. However, this would be unfortunate. Johnston's translation, the only English translation currently available, fails to convey the greatness of Baczynski's writing which is truly deep and warmingly introspective. I hope that future translations of Baczynski's writings will more accurately capture what he conveys to his Polish readers.

Krzysztof Kamil Baczynski is regarded, along with Czeslaw Milosz, Zbigniew Herbert and Wislawa Szymborska, as one of the greatest Polish poets of the 20th century. In his short life Baczynski, who died at the age of 23 during the 1944 Warsaw Uprising, had proven to be an individual of talent with poetic skill well beyond his years. He is known for the surprising maturity of his literary work. He wrote approximately 500 poems and 20 short stories with prosaic fragments.

Baczynski's poems are often reflective of an earlier romantic era. They are filled with symbolic visions and express an understanding of the immense tragedy surrounding him, while at the same time celebrating nature, life and the world's endless beauty. You can see this in the many love poems he wrote to his wife, Barbara.

Johnston attempted to translate just under 10% of Baczynski's poems, which at best gives you only a hint of Baczynski's work, and completely falls short of allowing readers to experience Baczynski. Again I stress attempted to translate because Johnston fails to capture what Polish readers experience and unfortunately he inaccurately and recklessly restructures Baczynski's poems and turns them into something that is void of depth and stripped of its essence. It would have been better for Johnston to not publish his translations until he could truly capture Baczynski's exactness and subtle literary beauty. Johnston has presented a haphazard publication that misleads his English readers with a distorted shadow attempting to mirror Baczynski's original poems.

Here are just some of the problems with Johnston's translations:
- He demonstrated his lack of clearly understanding Polish let alone how to translate it into English when he published his renditions, e.g. what should have been translated to "voice" (Polish "glos") was incorrectly translated to "speech", what should have been translated to "month" (Polish "miesiac") was incorrectly translated to "moon" [sic] and what should have been translated to just "pitcher" was incorrectly and unnecessarily expanded to "water pitcher", etc.
- He recklessly rearranged the order of lines within individual stanzas, which destroys most of Baczynski's poems and their original eloquence and rhythm.
- He rearranged the actual order of words within individual lines when he chose to apply only English grammar and sentence structure, despite the fact that Baczynski's poems often times were grammatically reversed in Polish and should have been translated as such into English.
- He showed total disregard for Baczynski's use of commas, colons and dashes; he simply eliminated these from some places and added them at will to others completely distorting Baczynski's poetic messages.
- He was inept at applying proper tenses, e.g. what was written in a present tense in progressive form (e.g. "is standing"), was translated to a present tense in simple form (e.g. "stands"),

Here is a fragment from the "White Magic" poem in Bill Johnston's translation:
"Barbara stands at the mirror
of silence, and her hands reach
to her hair; in her body of glass
she pours silver droplets of speech.

And then like a water pitcher
she fills with light, and soon
she has taken the stars within her
and the pale white dust of the moon.

Here is the same fragment from the "White Magic" poem I translated, closely following Baczynski's Polish original:
"Standing at the mirror of silence
Barbara with her hands at her hair
is pouring into a glassy body
silver droplets of voice.

And then like a pitcher - with light
she's filling in and glittering
she's seizing stars
and white dust of the month.

Once again, I hope that future publications of Baczynski's writings translated into English will more accurately capture what the poet conveys to his Polish readers.

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