Wislawa Szymborska

(2 July 1923 – 1 February 2012 / Prowent)

Wislawa Szymborska
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Wisława Szymborska-Włodek [viˈswava ʂɨmˈbɔrska] a Polish poet, essayist, translator and recipient of the 1996 Nobel Prize in Literature. Born in Prowent, which has since become part of Kórnik, she later resided in Kraków until the end of her life.

She was described as a "Mozart of Poetry". In Poland, Szymborska's books have reached sales rivaling prominent prose authors: although she once remarked in a poem, "Some Like Poetry" ("Niektórzy lubią poezję"), that no more than two out of a thousand people care for the art.

Szymborska was awarded the 1996 Nobel Prize in Literature "for poetry that with ironic precision allows the historical and biological context to come to ... more »

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Quotations

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  • You survived because you were the first.
    You survived because you were the last.
    Because alone. Because the others.
    Because on the left. Because on the right.
    Because it wa...
    Wislawa Szymborska (b. 1923), Polish poet. "Any Case," lines 6-11 (1948); tr. By Grazyna Drabik and Sharon Olds (1993). Symborska, who has always ...
  • Whether you want it or not,
    your genes have a political past,
    your skin a political tone.
    your eyes a political color.
    ...
    you walk with political steps
    on po...
    Wislawa Szymborska (b. 1923), Polish poet. "Children of the Epoch," lines 6-9, 14-15, translated by Grazyna Drabik and Austin Flint. On Poland dur...
  • History counts its skeletons in round numbers.
    A thousand and one remains a thousand,
    as though the one had never existed:
    an imaginary embryo, an empty cradle,
    ...
    ...
    Wislawa Szymborska (b. 1923), Polish poet. "Hunger Camp at Jaslo," lines 6-9, 12-13, translated by Grazyna Drabik and Austin Flint. I know that Sy...
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Comments about Wislawa Szymborska

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  • Justaname Parer (5/14/2005 4:55:00 AM)

    Hi,

    I have also seen 'Any case' translated like this:


    'Could have'

    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. On 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.

    Wislawa Szymborska, 'Could have', in View with a Grain of Sand: Selected Poems, trans. Stanislaw Baranczak and Clare Cavanagh, Harcourt Brace & Company, New York,1996, pp.65-66.

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