Size / / /

Content warning:

That night the darkness was stifling and sultry with lust,

and the cornflowers, illuminated by dry lightning,

seeped suddenly into the eyes of the deer

that ran for the forest, startled by the alien pupils –

and they, blueing up her head, raced deerlike,

peering greedily into the world cornflower-like.


The poppy, discovering itself in the boundlessness of the field,

with a scream, which to the ear was no sound at all,

haemorrhaged itself into a cockerel with crimson plumage,

and shook its scarlet crest until it bled,

and crowed into the darkness, rending open its beak, poisoned with fear,

until real cockerels answered it from elsewhere.


And the barley, gilding its ear with glutinous desire,

abruptly stiffened its anger-ruffled husks

and, rattling, ground itself into a golden hedgehog

and ran, pricking the slender obstacles of herbs along the way,

and whimpered and backed away from the flowers and bristled,

and no-one will ever guess what it felt or experienced.


And I—in what nettle did I sting my soul,

that I scurry furtively along the field’s edge?

And why are the flowers eyeing me suspiciously?

Do they know some night-time thing about me that I do not?

What did I do, that I press my temples with both of my hands?

What was I that night, which today is no more?



Bolesław Leśmian (1877-1937) was a Polish poet, artist and member of the Polish Academy of Literature. He was one of the most influential poets of the early 20th century in Poland, famous for his unique style and his coining of neologisms, many of which are still in use today.