For eight thousand miles on my trip to Warsaw
My ear was rinsed with your plaintive tune.
Your childhood house at Zelazowa Wola
I saw at last, a wish at last fulfilled.
What my pilgrim shoes brought back to Kaohsiung
Was the same soil you carried abroad
When you waved your dear Poland good-bye.
Long was the exile road that never turned back.
Unforgettable was the clay that smelt Polish
And the kitchen that smelt of mother. After
Vienna and Munich, Majorca and Paris,
Amid the coughing hardly drowned in mazurka,
Home remained out of reach except in dream.
Twice, since you left, your country has fallen;
The Eternal Town prophesied by the Mermaid
Has fallen again and again in fire.
After all the wars the Warsaw that greeted me
Was not the Warsaw you had bid farewell.
The keyboard, sad as if saying your will,
Was powerless to rescue Poland from ruin.
Yet neither the Russian hooves and boots
Nor the Nazi tanks could crush a prelude.
Crescendo goes the Étude of Revolution,
And nocturnes still murmur of George Sand.
When your magic fingers rise and fall
And black keys answer as white keys call,
When staccato and legato windward fly,
The world listens to your song, and, spell-bound,
All the ears to Poland turn intent.
For who can ever forget, Frédéric,
One hundred and ninety years old as you are,
The piano you left us remains as young,
As passionate and as mellifluent
As the flowing Vistula that, day and night,
North-bound, still washes your tears and blood.