Showing posts with the label Wislawa Szymborska

Photograph from September 11

BY WISŁAWA SZYMBORSKA They jumped from the burning floors— one, two, a few more, higher, lower. The photograph halted them in life, and now keeps them   above the earth toward the earth. Each is still complete, with a particular face and blood well hidden. There’s enough time for hair to come loose, for keys and coins to fall from pockets. They’re still within the air’s reach, within the compass of places that have just now opened. I can do only two things for them— describe this flight and not add a last line. TRANSLATED BY CLARE CAVANAGH

Miracle Fair

by Wislawa Szymborska Commonplace miracle: that so many commonplace miracles happen. An ordinary miracle: in the dead of night the barking of invisible dogs. One miracle out of many: a small, airy cloud yet it can block a large and heavy moon. Several miracles in one: an alder tree reflected in the water, and that it’s backwards left to right and that it grows there, crown down and never reaches the bottom, even though the water is shallow. An everyday miracle: winds weak to moderate turning gusty in storms. First among equal miracles: cows are cows. Second to none: just this orchard from just that seed. A miracle without a cape and top hat: scattering white doves. A miracle, for what else could you call it: today the sun rose at three-fourteen and will set at eight-o-one. A miracle, less surprising than it should be: even though the hand has fewer than six fingers, it still has more than four. A miracle, just take a look around: the wor


by Wislawa Szymborska I prefer movies. I prefer cats. I prefer the oaks along the river. I prefer Dickens to Dostoyevsky. I prefer myself liking people to myself loving mankind. I prefer keeping a needle and thread on hand, just in case. I prefer the color green. I prefer not to maintain that reason is to blame for everything. I prefer exceptions. I prefer to leave early. I prefer talking to doctors about something else. I prefer the old fine-lined illustrations. I prefer the absurdity of writing poems to the absurdity of not writing poems. I prefer, where love’s concerned, nonspecific anniversaries that can be celebrated every day. I prefer moralists who promise me nothing. I prefer cunning kindness to the over-trustful kind. I prefer the earth in civvies. I prefer conquered to conquering countries. I prefer having some reservations. I prefer the hell of chaos to the hell of order. I prefer Grimms’ fairy tales to the newspapers’ front pages. I prefer leave

Could Have

by Wislawa Szymborska It could have happened. It had to happen. It happened earlier. Later. Nearer. Farther off. It happened, but not to you. You were saved because you were the first. You were saved because you were the last. Alone. With others. On the right. The left. Because it was raining. Because of the shade. Because the day was sunny. You were in luck -- there was a forest. You were in luck -- there were no trees. You were in luck -- a rake, a hook, a beam, a brake, A jamb, a turn, a quarter-inch, an instant . . . So you're here? Still dizzy from another dodge, close shave, reprieve? One hole in the net and you slipped through? I couldn't be more shocked or speechless. Listen, how your heart pounds inside me. from View With a Grain of Sand , trans. Stanislaw Baranczak and Clare Cavanagh To read more of her poems that I admire!

The Three Oddest Words

by Wislawa Szymborska When I pronounce the word Future, the first syllable already belongs to the past. When I pronounce the word Silence, I destroy it. When I pronounce the word Nothing, I make something no non-being can hold. Translated by S. Baranczak & C. Cavanagh To read more of her poems that I admire!

In Praise of Feeling Bad About Yourself

by Wislawa Szymborska The buzzard never says it is to blame. The panther wouldn't know what scruples mean. When the piranha strikes, it feels no shame. If snakes had hands, they'd claim their hands were clean. A jackal doesn't understand remorse. Lions and lice don't waver in their course. Why should they, when they know they're right? Though hearts of killer whales may weigh a ton, in every other way they're light. On this third planet of the sun among the signs of bestiality a clear conscience is Number One. Translated by Stanislaw Baraczak and Clare Cavanagh To read more of her poems that I admire!


by Wislawa Szymborska Look, how constantly capable and how well maintained in our century: hatred. How lightly she regards high impediments. How easily she leaps and overtakes. She's not like other feelings. She's both older and younger than they. She herself gives birth to causes which awaken her to life. If she ever dozes, it's not an eternal sleep. Insomnia does not sap her strength, but adds to it. Religion or no religion, as long as one kneels at the starting-block. Fatherland or no fatherland, as long as one tears off at the start. She begins as fairness and equity. Then she propels herself. Hatred. Hatred. She veils her face with a mien of romantic ecstasy. Oh, the other feelings -- decrepit and sluggish. Since when could that brotherhood count on crowds? Did ever empathy urge on toward the goal? How many clients did doubt abduct? Only she abducts who knows her own. Talented, intelligent, very industrious. Do we need to say how