translated from Polish by Mira Rosenthal


A bored married couple of actors
in front of a full hall rattle off their lines
Bride and Bridegroom
from the Song of Songs.
Do you remember? I don’t want it that way:
I prefer instead to sever your head in verse
like Judith did Holofernes
and with a rather dramatic blend
of fear and anger and resentment to look
at the sword, in bright streams of blood,
that somehow cannot
withdraw from your body.

…read the poem in its original language



portrait of Krystyna Dabrowska
Author photo by Albert Zawada, used by permission

Krystyna Dąbrowska is a poet, translator, and essayist. The author of four poetry books, the most recent of which is Ścieżki dźwiękowe (“Soundtracks,” 2018). She won the prestigious Polish literary prizes, the Wisława Szymborska Award and the Kościelski Award, both in 2013. In 2019, she won the Literary Award of the Capital City of Warsaw. Her poems have been translated into sixteen languages and appear regularly in literary magazines in Poland and abroad, including Harper’s Magazine, Ploughshares, The Threepenny Review, The Southern Review, and Modern Poetry in Translation, among others. Her translations include the poetry of  W. C. Williams, W. B. Yeats, Thomas Hardy, Thom Gunn, Charles Simic, and Kim Moore, as well as selected letters of Elizabeth Bishop and Robert Lowell. She lives and works in Warsaw.


Mira Rosenthal is a past fellow of the National Endowment for the Arts and Stanford University’s Stegner Fellowship, and her work appears regularly in such journals as Poetry, Ploughshares, Threepenny Review, Guernica, Harvard Review, New England Review, A Public Space, and Oxford American. Her first book of poems, The Local World, received the Wick Poetry Prize. Read her essay in questions about translation in The Kenyon Review



read next: Brandon Taylor, “When Will We Get What We Deserve?


“Judith” appeared in TLR: Contents May Shift (Summer, 2020)