Wislawa Szymborska

(2 July 1923 – 1 February 2012 / Prowent)

Birthday - Poem by Wislawa Szymborska


So much world all at once – how it rustles and bustles!
Moraines and morays and morasses and mussels,
The flame, the flamingo, the flounder, the feather –
How to line them all up, how to put them together?
All the tickets and crickets and creepers and creeks!
The beeches and leeches alone could take weeks.
Chinchillas, gorillas, and sarsaparillas –
Thanks do much, but all this excess of kindness could kill us.
Where’s the jar for this burgeoning burdock, brooks’ babble,
Rooks’ squabble, snakes’ quiggle, abundance, and trouble?
How to plug up the gold mines and pin down the fox,
How to cope with the linx, bobolinks, strptococs!
Tale dioxide: a lightweight, but mighty in deeds:
What about octopodes, what about centipedes?
I could look into prices, but don’t have the nerve:
These are products I just can’t afford, don’t deserve.
Isn’t sunset a little too much for two eyes
That, who knows, may not open to see the sun rise?
I am just passing through, it’s a five-minute stop.
I won’t catch what is distant: what’s too close, I’ll mix up.
While trying to plumb what the void's inner sense is,
I'm bound to pass by all these poppies and pansies.
What a loss when you think how much effort was spent
perfecting this petal, this pistil, this scent
for the one-time appearance, which is all they're allowed,
so aloofly precise and so fragilely proud.

translated from Polish by Stanislaw Baranczak
and Clare Cavanagh


Tyle naraz świata ze wszystkich stron swiata:
moreny, mureny i morza, i zorze,
i ogień, i ogon, i orzeł, i orzech -
jak ja to ustawię, gdzie ja to położę?
Te chaszcze i paszcze, i leszcze, i deszcze,
bodziszki, modliszki - gdzie ja to pomieszczę?
Motyle, goryle, beryle i trele -
dziękuję, to chyba o wiele za wiele,
Do dzbanka jakiego tam łopian i łopot,
i łubin, i popłoch, i przepych, i kłopot?
Gdzie zabrać kolibra, gdzie ukryć to srebro,
co zrobić na serio z tym żubrem i zebrą?
Już taki dwutlenek rzecz ważna i droga,
a tu ośmiornica i jeszcze stonoga!
Domyślam się ceny, choć cena z gwiazd zdarta -
dziekuję, doprawdy nie czuję się warta.
Nie szkoda to dla mnie zachodu i słońca?
Jak ma się w to bawić osoba żyjąca?
Na chwilę tu jestem i tylko na chwilę:
co dalsze, przeoczę, a resztę pomylę.
Nie zdążę wszystkiego odróżnić od próżni.
Pogubię te bratki w pośpiechu podróżnym.
Jużc hoćby najmniejszy - szalony wydatek:
fatyga łodygi i listek, i płatek
raz jeden w przestrzeni, od nigdy, na oślep,
wzgardliwie dokładny i kruchy wyniośle.

Comments about Birthday by Wislawa Szymborska

  • (10/9/2017 5:49:00 PM)

    What an exquisite ode to Mother Nature! ! ! (Report) Reply

    0 person liked.
    0 person did not like.
  • James Mclain Is It Poetry (10/9/2017 5:33:00 PM)

    A rose is a rose by any name
    The thorn it stings unto the grave.. iip.. James
    (Report) Reply

  • Seema Sharma Rimi (10/9/2017 9:05:00 AM)

    Moraines and morays and morasses and mussels,
    The flame, the flamingo, the flounder, the feather –
    How to line them all up, how to put them together?
    Great technique adopted to write such a poem.
    (Report) Reply

  • Glen Kappy (10/9/2017 6:54:00 AM)

    I read this without much engagement until the last four lines. Then I went back. Worth the read! -GK (Report) Reply

  • Sylvia Frances Chan (10/9/2017 3:28:00 AM)

    WOW! A delcious poem like a home made cake, this is meant to flatter, really amazing! A REN for Mrs. Wislawa S. (Report) Reply

  • Alexander Julian (10/9/2017 1:22:00 AM)

    She's like my grandma who likes to use a lot of special words in a short time, almost as if she were to poke me with kindness. That's enough romance for a mile which makes me turn to pudding and smile! (Report) Reply

  • Bernard F. Asuncion (10/9/2017 12:31:00 AM)

    Such a great write by Wislawa Szymborska...... (Report) Reply

  • Kumarmani Mahakul (10/9/2017 12:15:00 AM)

    The flame, the flamingo, the flounder, the feather and moraines and morays and morasses and mussels, many many things we perceive as so much at once in this wonderful world. Birthday brings joy and this joy is well in celebration. Emotion floats over mind. The void's inner sense is bound to pass. Brilliantly penned birthday poem is excellent one...10 (Report) Reply

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Poem Submitted: Friday, February 3, 2012

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