Tadeusz Rozewicz

Tadeusz Rozewicz Poems

When all the women in the transport
had their heads shaved
four workmen with brooms made of birch twigs
swept up

I am twenty-four
led to slaughter
I survived.

Suddenly the window will open
and Mother will call
it's time to come in

And yet whiteness
can be best described by greyness
a bird by a stone

Lasciate ogni speranza
Voi ch'entrate

abandon all hope

Tadeusz Rozewicz Biography

Tadeusz Różewicz (9 October 1921 – 24 April 2014) was a Polish poet, dramatist and writer. Różewicz belonged to the first generation of Polish writers born after Poland regained its independence in 1918 following the century of foreign partitions. He was born in Radomsko near Łódź. His first poems were published in 1938. During the Second World War, like his brother Janusz (also a poet), he was a soldier of the Polish underground Home Army. His other brother Stanisław was a noted film director. Tadeusz Różewicz was the son of Władysław and Stefania Różewicz, his mother née Gelbard, being a Jewish convert to Catholicism. Unlike his elder brother Janusz, also a highly promising poet, who was executed by the Gestapo in 1944 for serving in the Resistance, Tadeusz survived the war. On finishing high-school, he enrolled at the Jagiellonian University of Kraków, and then in the late 1940s moved to Gliwice where he lived for the next thirty years. In 1968 he moved to Wrocław where he lived for the rest of his life. Czesław Miłosz hailed his poetic gifts in a poem in 1948. His literary debut as a highly innovative playwright began in 1960 with The Card Index (Kartoteka), by which time he was already the author of fifteen acclaimed volumes of poetry published since 1944. He had written over a dozen plays and several screenplays. The eruption of dramaturgical energy was also accompanied by volumes of poetry and prose. Some of his best known plays other than The Card Index include, The Interrupted Act (Akt przerywany, 1970), Birth Certificate (Świadectwo urodzenia, screenplay to an award-winning film by the same title, 1961), Left Home (Wyszedł z domu, 1965), and The White Wedding (Białe małżeństwo, 1975). His New Poems collection was nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award in 2008. Some of his works were translated into all major languages. Różewicz died in Wrocław on 24 April 2014 from natural causes. He was 92.)

The Best Poem Of Tadeusz Rozewicz


When all the women in the transport
had their heads shaved
four workmen with brooms made of birch twigs
swept up
and gathered up the hair

Behind clean glass
the stiff hair lies
of those suffocated in gas chambers
there are pins and side combs
in this hair

The hair is not shot through with light
is not parted by the breeze
is not touched by any hand
or rain or lips

In huge chests
clouds of dry hair
of those suffocated
and a faded plait
a pigtail with a ribbon
pulled at school
by naughty boys.

Translated by Adam Czerniawski

Tadeusz Rozewicz Comments

Cindy 25 August 2020

Heard of this poem on a movie

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