At this time of year, I always get to thinking about the Arctic and Antarctic - their beautiful landscapes and what they represent, the tales of heroic exploration and all the metaphors that go with them. (You can read more on my personal blog here)
And I think this poem sums up exactly the lure and appeal of these geographical and metaphorical locations - 'the emptiness that can promise one thing only: plenitude', the white wastelands made from 'a surfeit of happiness.'
The language is beautiful, suitably sublime and what the poem seems to convey is what these surreal white lands represent: 'a perfect balance between waking and dreams.'
Balance - Adam Zagajewski
I watched the arctic landscape from above
and thought of nothing, lovely nothing.
I observed white canopies of clouds, vast
expanses where no wolf tracks could be found.
I thought about you and about the emptiness
that can promise one thing only: plenitude—
and that a certain sort of snowy wasteland
bursts from a surfeit of happiness.
As we drew closer to our landing,
the vulnerable earth emerged among the clouds,
comic gardens forgotten by their owners,
pale grass plagued by winter and the wind.
I put my book down and for an instant felt
a perfect balance between waking and dreams.
But when the plane touched concrete, then
assiduously circled the airport’s labryinth,
I once again knew nothing. The darkness
of daily wanderings resumed, the day’s sweet darkness,
the darkness of the voice that counts and measures,
remembers and forgets.
—translated by Clare Cavanagh