Springtime Nightmares

A girl runs through the forest. Her time bathed in green…
Behold her hair blown by the breeze, trees rustling in the wind!

The sun fumes from the anthills in golden dust – a haze.
A fear is rising in her breast of strange, marvelous spring days!

Of a werewolf fierce in a dark wood she dreamed at night-time deep,
Two armoured knights and angels three she sighted in her sleep!

She dreamed of song and dancing, and every bird and beast!
A mighty sword and blood and fire! Dreams crossed from west to east!…

She runs towards reality, right to the edge of woods –
And after her a tiger-may! A May in a savage mood!…

The maiden, hot with anger, clenches her ivory hand…
Around her fragrant flowers grow, graced by God’s command!

Around her fragrant flowers grow, a brook is drowned with the sun!
The purple and the green and gold! Blooming in a mad, fierce run!

Thundering spring and pounding heat! The throat-cut roses bleed!
Oh, happy, happy, happy! Now or never, indeed!…

Hey, now, lovely girl! Our time is green as May!
I used to love – not only once – and now I love again…

Oh, girl, I was with you in dreams, in glens and forests deep –
I – angels three, two armoured knights – followed you in your sleep!…

I am the song and dancing, and every bird and beast!
I am the sword and blood and fire! Dreams crossed from west to east…

I crossed the dream while chasing you, your faithful tiger-may!…
I am this whole deep forest, right to its edge, away!

By Boleslaw Leśmian
translated, from the Polish, by Joanna Agnieszka Witkowska
illustrated by Sonia Liapounova


Joanna Witkowska was born in Poland in 1986. In 2011 she received her Master’s in English Philology at the Institute of English Studies of Warsaw University. She is currently a PhD candidate in Medieval Studies at the University of Edinburgh.

Boleslaw Leśmian (1877-1937) was born in Warsaw, Congress Poland, Russian Empire, to a family of Polonized Jewish intelligentsia. He was one of the most influential poets of the early 20th century in Poland.

Artist Sonia Liapounova is a sophomore at UC Davis majoring in computer science. Working in traditional media, she likes to paint animals and fantasy creatures, illustrating the lives they lead in her head and on paper.