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The Stephen Spender Prize 2019 for poetry in translation
in association with the Guardian

Polish Spotlight 14-and-under category, winner

Read the judges’ comments
Download the 2019 booklet
Email to request a free hard copy of the booklet (UK addresses only)
Read the winning entries from previous years

Michaela Konkolewska-Grybė

Listen to 'Glasses'


"Where are my glasses? Where are my glasses?"
Running and screaming is poor Mr Francis.

"Where have they gone? I have no clue!"
He checks his frock, trousers and shoes.

His whole wardrobe is knocked over,
He pats his dressing gown and pullover.

"Unbelievable" he shouts, "unacceptable!"
"Somebody has stolen my spectacles!"

Under, inside, on the lounge chair;
Snorting and gasping; ripping out his hair.

He peeps in the oven and up the chimney,
Inside a mouse hole and each piano key.

He wants the police to come straight away,
He wants to rip out the floorboards today!

Suddenly he looks in the mirror,
He doesn't believe it, he looks much clearer.

He found them! They're here! Who could've known?
That his glasses were on his very own nose.

Translated from the Polish by Michaela Konkolewska-Grybė


Biega, krzyczy pan Hilary:
"Gdzie są moje okulary?"

Szuka w spodniach i w surducie,
W prawym bucie, w lewym bucie.

Wszystko w szafach poprzewracał,
Maca szlafrok, palto maca.

"Skandal! – krzyczy - nie do wiary!
Ktoś mi ukradł okulary!"

Pod kanapą, na kanapie,
Wszędzie szuka, parska, sapie!

Szpera w piecu i w kominie,
W mysiej dziurze i w pianinie.

Już podłogę chce odrywać,
Już policję zaczął wzywać.

Nagle - zerknął do lusterka…
Nie chce wierzyć… Znowu zerka.

Znalazł! Są! Okazało się,
Że je ma na własnym nosie.

Julian Tuwim

Reproduced by kind permission of Fundacja im. Juliana Tuwima i Ireny Tuwim (The Julian and Irena Tuwim Foundation)


Translation commentary

The poem I decided to choose was 'Okulary' by Julian Tuwim. I chose it for many reasons; one of the reasons I chose this was because it reminded me of a family member, my mum. She always runs around the place shouting "Where is my phone!?" or "Where are my keys?!" when they're right behind her.

I started off by writing down the literal translation of the poem (even though it didn't make much sense) and then I re-wrote it so that it made sense but some of it didn't rhyme (a few stanzas did though). It took me quite a while to translate this poem because I didn't know a few of the words in English or I couldn't find anything to rhyme with a specific word. Then I thought about the website my mum uses, Thesaurus, and I started searching from there. I honestly thought that it would be easier and that it would take less time but that wasn't the case. To keep the rhythm flowing, I sometimes had to change the word order or add words with similar meaning.

Overall I really enjoyed doing this and it was a great experience and I had never translated a poem before. I would recommend this to so many people because even if you don't win, there is still a great memory that you will keep forever.

Michaela Konkolewska-Grybė