Foundations – Leopold Staff

This poem was written immediately after World War Il, in Poland, among the ruins, of which those in the figurative sense were even more oppressive than the physical ones. There was literally nothing. How could a poet react to that situation? What was left was to do what a child does, who when trying to draw a house often starts with the smoke from the chimney, then draws a chimney, and then the rest. So this is a poem of naked faith.

I built on the sand
And it tumbled down,
I built on a rock
And it tumbled down.
Now when I build, I shall begin
With the smoke from the chimney.

LEOPOLD STAFF 1878 – 1957
Translated from the Polish by Czeslaw Milosz

A Book Of Luminous Things: An International Anthology of Poetry