Maria Pawlikowska-Jasnorzewska, ‘Telefon’
in Różowa Magja [Pink Magic]
(Lwów: Księgarnia H. Altenberga, 1924)

Whirring, a strange miracle arises in the
        ebony receiver on the long, green wire.
I hold it in my left hand, hold it like a rose
        in bloom, like a goblet full of the best wine.

Like a flat shell, in which a sweet, fascinating thought
        rings like one’s own, small, dark, warm star.
How nice to have a miracle on a cord and confine it in your left
        palm to softly sound, like a ducat in a savings jar.

translated by Kryssa Burakowski

The poem ‘Telephone’ features in Maria Pawlikowska-Jasnorzewska’s 1924 collection Pink Magic. Pawlikowska-Jasnorzewska was a playwright, poet and artist. In this poem, she approaches the telephone as a magical instrument, describing it as a ‘strange miracle’ allowing the owner to hear kind voices through the mysterious workings of the green cord and ebony receiver. By comparing the receiver to a rose, a goblet of wine and a shell, Pawlikowska-Jasnorzewska creates a sense of the telephone as an item worthy of being treasured. The sound ringing softly in the receiver is likened to a golden coin jingling in a money box, again underscoring the value of the telephone’s power to connect voices and transmit ideas.

The accompanying drawing, also by Pawlikowska-Jasnorzewska, serves as the cover image for the collection. It depicts a sorcerer surrounded by the tools of their trade. This further illustrates the idea of the telephone being a mystical object which allows the user, wielding the receiver like a wand, to conjure up the voices of distant friends.

by Kryssa Burakowski