Wislawa Szymborska, 1923 – 2012

Polish poet Wislawa Szymborska passed away a couple of days ago. I first heard of her on an NPR show a few years back (and had included a couple of her poems on the blog – see here and here). If you have never read her work, I entreat you to do so. She is an absolutely brilliant poet, simple, straightforward, yet deep, with a wonderful touch of whimsy and humor. Here are a couple of her poems:

****

The End and the Beginning

After every war
someone has to clean up.
Things won’t
straighten themselves up, after all.

Someone has to push the rubble
to the sides of the road,
so the corpse-laden wagons
can pass.

Someone has to get mired
in scum and ashes,
sofa springs,
splintered glass,
and bloody rags.

Someone must drag in a girder
to prop up a wall,
Someone must glaze a window,
rehang a door.

Photogenic it’s not,
and takes years.
All the cameras have left
for another war.

Again we’ll need bridges
and new railway stations.
Sleeves will go ragged
from rolling them up.

Someone, broom in hand,
still recalls how it was.
Someone listens
and nods with unsevered head.
Yet others milling about
already find it dull.

From behind the bush
sometimes someone still unearths
rust-eaten arguments
and carries them to the garbage pile.

Those who knew
what was going on here
must give way to
those who know little.
And less than little.
And finally as little as nothing.

In the grass which has overgrown
reasons and causes,
someone must be stretched out
blade of grass in his mouth
gazing at the clouds.

*****

ABC

I’ll never find out now
What A. thought of me.
If B. ever forgave me in the end.
Why C. pretended everything was fine.
What part D. played in E.’s silence.
What F. had been expecting, if anything.
Why G. forgot when she knew perfectly well.
What H. had to hide.
What I. wanted to add.
If my being around
meant anything
to J. and K. and the rest of the alphabet.

****

1 Comment

  1. To be honest i was unware about this great lady before read your post and now when i read her poem in your post i feel that why i was unaware about Wislawa Szymborska. Thanks a lot to share something with us about her.

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