Anna Świrszczyńska

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Anna Świrszczyńska
Born 1909
Warsaw, Poland
Died 1984
Kraków, Poland
Pen name Anna Swir
Occupation Poet
Nationality Polish
Notable works Happy as a Dog's Tail, Talking to My Body, Fat like the Sun
Notable awards Krzyz Kawalerski Oderu Odrodzenia Polski 1957

Krzyz Oficersk Orderu Odrodzenia Polski 1975

Krzyz Oficersk Orderu Odrodzenia Polski 1975

Nagroda miasta Krakowa 1976

Anna Świrszczyńska (also known as Anna Swir) (1909–1984) was a Polish poet whose works deal with themes including her experiences during World War II, motherhood, the female body, and sensuality.


Świrszczyńska was born in Warsaw and grew up in poverty as the daughter of an artist. She began publishing her poems in the 1930s. During the Nazi occupation of Poland she joined the Polish resistance movement in World War II and was a military nurse during the Warsaw Uprising. She wrote for underground publications and once waited 60 minutes to be executed. Czesław Miłosz writes of knowing her during this time and has translated a volume of her work.[1] Her experiences during the war strongly influenced her poetry. In 1974 she published Building the Barricade, a volume which describes the suffering she witnessed and experienced during that time. She also writes frankly about the female body in various stages of life.[2]


You will not tame this sea
either by humility or rapture.
But you can laugh
in its face.

The Sea and the Man [3]

Translated by Czeslaw Milosz and Leonard Nathan

Poetry collections[edit]

  • Wiersze i proza (Poems and Prose) (1936)
  • Liryki zebrane (Collected Poems) (1958)
  • Czarne słowa (Black Words) (1967)
  • Wiatr (Wind) (1970)
  • Jestem baba (I am a Woman) (1972)
  • Poezje wybrane (Selected Poems) (1973)
  • Budowałam barykadę (Building the Barricade) (1974)
  • Szczęśliwa jak psi ogon (Happy as a Dog's Tail) (1978)
  • Cierpienie i radość (Suffering and Joy) (1985)

Collections in English translation[edit]

  • Thirty-four Poems on the Warsaw Uprising (1977), New York. Transl.: Magnus Jan Kryński, Robert A. Maguire.
  • Building the Barricade (1979), Kraków. Transl.: Magnus Jan Kryński, Robert A. Maguire.
  • Happy as a Dog's Tail (1985), San Diego. Transl.: Czesław Miłosz & Leonard Nathan.
  • Fat Like the Sun (1986), London. Transl.: M. Marshment, G. Baran.
  • Talking to My Body (Copper Canyon Press, 1996) Transl.: Czesław Miłosz & Leonard Nathan.
  • Building the Barricade and Other Poems of Anna Swir Tr. by Piotr Florczyk (Calypso Editions, 2011).

Translation into other languages[edit]


Some of Swir's poems are translated into Nepali by Suman Pokhrel.[4][5]


Siddheshwar Singh, Manoj Patel and other translators have translated many of her poems into Hindi.[6][7]


Further reading[edit]

  • Miłosz, Czesław – Jakiegoż to gościa mieliśmy : o Annie Świrszczyńskiej (1996), Kraków "Znak"
  • Ingbrant, Renata -- From Her Point of View: Woman’s Anti-world in the Poetry of Anna Świrszczyńska (2007), Stockholm: Stockholm University "Acta Universitatis Stockholmiensis"
  • Stawowy, Renata – Gdzie jestem ja sama : o poezji Anny Świrszczyńskiej (2004), Kraków "Universitas"

External links[edit]