Wislawa Szymborska

(2 July 1923 – 1 February 2012 / Prowent)

Nothing Twice - Poem by Wislawa Szymborska

Nothing can ever happen twice.
In consequence, the sorry fact is
that we arrive here improvised
and leave without the chance to practice.

Even if there is no one dumber,
if you're the planet's biggest dunce,
you can't repeat the class in summer:
this course is only offered once.

No day copies yesterday,
no two nights will teach what bliss is
in precisely the same way,
with precisely the same kisses.

One day, perhaps some idle tongue
mentions your name by accident:
I feel as if a rose were flung
into the room, all hue and scent.

The next day, though you're here with me,
I can't help looking at the clock:
A rose? A rose? What could that be?
Is it a flower or a rock?

Why do we treat the fleeting day
with so much needless fear and sorrow?
It's in its nature not to stay:
Today is always gone tomorrow.

With smiles and kisses, we prefer
to seek accord beneath our star,
although we're different (we concur)
just as two drops of water are.

translated by Clare Cavanagh and Stanislaw Baranczak


Comments about Nothing Twice by Wislawa Szymborska

  • Susan Williams (1/30/2016 3:08:00 PM)


    This was absolutely one of the very best poems I have ever read! And the translators Clare Cavanagh and Stanislaw Baranczak have done their job with consummate skill and poetic bent. Kudos to them for delivering this poem to us undamaged. I want to read this again and again (Report) Reply

    15 person liked.
    0 person did not like.
  • (7/14/2013 2:39:00 PM)


    Clarity on the matter, as usual, from this source! (Report) Reply

  • (4/6/2013 12:05:00 PM)


    Simply one of the most beautiful of poems... (Report) Reply

  • (2/6/2012 11:22:00 AM)


    Wonderful thought provoking poem. (Report) Reply

Read all 4 comments »



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Poem Submitted: Friday, February 3, 2012



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