Jarosław Iwaszkiewicz: The word pax, pax, pax
Jarosław Iwaszkiewicz (1894-1980)
From The Brotherhood of Man
Translated by Adam Gillon and Ludwik Krzyzanowski
When tempests rage upon the ocean, and many-storied
against each other,
emitting sounds like many thousands clapping hands,
and toss ships and fishing boats against the rocks,
and cast men upon the waters of the sea, their heads
like wooden logs from shipwrecks -
then suddenly the clouds are rent asunder, like grey
the stage, and a solitary ray falls,
like a gigantic arrow, or a chord that joins the sky
with sea, and
the sea is calmed, and the vessels creep to their ports,
As a mother standing over her son’s grave drops her
And the ray upon the turgid but already clearer wave
draws the word: pax, pax, pax…
Thus we too await for heavens to draw open and to
give a sign
to all of us, to clasp our hands,
and to exclaim as that ray of sun:
Think of those whose mouths were filled with plaster,
and of those felled by bullets before they could cry out,
and of those who eyes were filled with blood and could
not cast a glance upon the sky,
as you look upon it now,
nor on the victorious banner,
because they died in degradation -
and think about the brotherhood of Man!
And if you cannot fight for man
and if you too take to swords and rifles
and kill your brothers -
mankind shall not attain salvation.
Think, think of this now.
Think of happiness and freedom.
For only the struggle for good can win goodness
and only the degradation of evil can elevate goodness
and only the brotherhood of man can raise upon the
the Olympic flag, great as the world.
Take each other’s hand and sing:
pax, pax, pax -
to signify the brotherhood of Man.