Mar 09 2018

Anna Swir – Myself and My Person

Published by at 8:50 am under Poetry

Myself and My Person
by Anna Swir

English version by Czeslaw Milosz and Leonard Nathan

There are moments
when I feel more clearly than ever
that I am in the company
of my own person.
This comforts and reassures me,
this heartens me,
just as my tridimensional body
is heartened by my own authentic shadow.

There are moments
when I really feel more clearly than ever
that I am in the company
of my own person.

I stop
at a street corner to turn left
and I wonder what would happen
if my own person walked to the right.

Until now that has not happened
but it does not settle the question.

— from Talking to My Body, by Anna Swir / Translated by Czeslaw Milosz


/ Image by vanillapearl /

Something today by the wonderful Polish poet, Anna Swir.

There are moments
when I really feel more clearly than ever
that I am in the company
of my own person.

Whatever our background or belief system, we keep having this central encounter — that stranger, that shadow or twin, who is ourself.

Busy with our lives, we hunger for some experiences, struggle to avoid others, while some we just hope to survive. Then a moment comes, perhaps wondrous or utterly ordinary, and all our experiences fold in on themselves and there we discover our own selves for the first time experiencing them.

A strange division of self occurred somewhere in our forgotten formation, for we recognize that there are actually two “I”s: The “I” I assume myself to be, and the “I” that is “my own person,” who I really am.

It is absurd, really. We always know who we are, right? Who and what we are is the one constant in every instant of our lives. Yet somehow we encounter ourselves and it as if we are meeting a stranger for the first time. How can this self that I am be unknown to me? And how can this new self be so much bigger and less broken than I thought I was? Who is this stranger that I am?

I stop
at a street corner to turn left
and I wonder what would happen
if my own person walked to the right.

Just how different can this self of selves be from my daily self? Can it go one way, while I go another? What does that even mean? Can it be an “it,” separate from myself while still being myself? Which me is me, and which it is an it?

When we finally recognize our full selves, we have the opportunity to shift our identity. As this new self, we become immensely real in a way that the old, mundane self never quite was. The pretense of the prior self is revealed. The bigger self brightens and the old self is lost in the light.

So, my advice: If you stop at a street corner and notice your own person walking to the right, turn right and follow.


Recommended Books: Anna Swir

Talking to My Body Dancing with Joy: 99 Poems


Anna Swir, Anna Swir poetry, Secular or Eclectic poetry Anna Swir

Poland (1909 – 1984) Timeline
Secular or Eclectic

More poetry by Anna Swir

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