Robert Frost in Translation/Polish/Przystając w lesie

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Przystając w lesie w śnieżny wieczór is a translation of Robert Frost's Stoping by Woods on a Snowy Evening by Ludmiła Mariańska

Przystając w lesie w śnieżny wieczór[edit]

Ludmiła Mrajańska

Mysle, ze wiem, czyje to lasy.

On ze wsi mnie nie dojrzy; czasem

Przystaje tutaj, aby w oku

Utrwalic lesne sniezne zaspy.

Mój koń zdziwiony patrzy z boku:

Przystawac, gdy farm nie ma wokól,

Tuż przy jeziora zmarzlej toni,

W lesie, w noc najciemniejsza roku?

Dzwonkiem uprzezy lekko dzwoni,

Pytajac, czy pamietam o nim.

Prócz tego dzwięku tylko jasne,

Puszyste platki wietrzyk goni.

W lasach gleboka, piekna zima,

Lecz ja obietnic mam dotrzymac

I wiele mil przejść, zanim zasnę,

I wiele mil przejść, zanim zasnę.


In her translation, Mariańska quite successfully manages to keep the original rhymes, except of the triple rhyme in the last stanza. This however was compensated by rhyming zasnę with jasne in the third stanza. Taking that into account, it can be said that she succeeded in representing the complicated structure of Frost’s rhymes.

Nonetheless, in terms of the content the translation is not very faithful. In the first stanza the word czasem [sometimes] in czasem/ Przystaję tutaj [I sometimes stop here] slightly changes the perspective. Namely, it suggests that it is an action that is performed from time to time, while Frost does not mention that is has happened before. Although it was used to create a rhyme in the first stanza, it distorts the original meaning. A similar situation takes place in the case of the evening translated as noc [the night]. The evening anticipates the night, but there is still some time until it comes, we feel that something is going to happen but something can be done before that. In the translation the anticipation of something impending is lost, the night has already come. Because of that slight change the mood of the poem, which is very important in this case, was not represented. Moreover, the frequent use of diminutives in the translation create much more pastoral-like image than in the original.

Apart from those semantic distortions, the omission of dark in the description of the forest has significant consequences. The forest loses the, somehow hypnotizing, rather dangerous power, which drags people towards it. It becomes lovely and pleasant. Therefore, the allusion to death is not reflected in the translation, as well as the paradox of the “attractiveness” of death, which can liberate people from social promises and duties.

See Also[edit]


  1. Barańczak, Stanisław. Ocalone W Tłumaczeniu. Poznań: Wydawnictwo A5, 1994. PDF.
  2. Elektorowicz,Leszek. Wiersze, wybór i opracowanie. Warszawa, 1972. s. 90.