Lot's Wife Poem by Wislawa Szymborska

Lot's Wife

Rating: 4.0


They say I looked back out of curiosity.
But I could have had other reasons.
I looked back mourning my silver bowl.
Carelessly, while tying my sandal strap.
So I wouldn't have to keep staring at the righteous nape
of my husband Lot's neck.
From the sudden conviction that if I dropped dead
he wouldn't so much as hesitate.
From the disobedience of the meek.
Checking for pursuers.
Struck by the silence, hoping God had changed his mind.
Our two daughters were already vanishing over the hilltop.
I felt age within me. Distance.
The futility of wandering. Torpor.
I looked back setting my bundle down.
I looked back not knowing where to set my foot.
Serpents appeared on my path,
spiders, field mice, baby vultures.
They were neither good nor evil now--every living thing
was simply creeping or hopping along in the mass panic.
I looked back in desolation.
In shame because we had stolen away.
Wanting to cry out, to go home.
Or only when a sudden gust of wind
unbound my hair and lifted up my robe.
It seemed to me that they were watching from the walls of Sodom
and bursting into thunderous laughter again and again.
I looked back in anger.
To savor their terrible fate.
I looked back for all the reasons given above.
I looked back involuntarily.
It was only a rock that turned underfoot, growling at me.
It was a sudden crack that stopped me in my tracks.
A hamster on its hind paws tottered on the edge.
It was then we both glanced back.
No, no. I ran on,
I crept, I flew upward
until darkness fell from the heavens
and with it scorching gravel and dead birds.
I couldn't breathe and spun around and around.
Anyone who saw me must have thought I was dancing.
It's not inconceivable that my eyes were open.
It's possible I fell facing the city.

COMMENTS OF THE POEM
Raynette Eitel 19 February 2006

This poet has captured something that one doesn't hear in sermons. Perhaps it is because she speaks from a woman't viewpoint of a time when God moved among people ready to do something about sin. 'I looked back from loneliness, from shame that I was stealing away...' All those thoughts before turning to a pillar of salt. Only a poet knows the true mind of Lot's wife. This is my favorite poem by my favorite poet of the twentieth century. Raynette

7 6 Reply
Kevin Patrick 24 February 2015

Although I am not expert in the biblical sense, I am familiar with the story, and appreciate this as being a great interpretation of events from the female perspective. Its wonderful to see the wife flushed out as an actual person as opposed to just being used as a warning for disobeying angels commands. There is a beautiful surrealistic nature to the words. that give it a magical and terrifying vision. Lots wife has never been more sympathetic. Superb stuff

9 0 Reply
Ahmad Shiddiqi 09 October 2008

very interesting! ! ! could you read and comment on my poems too? thank you.

3 5 Reply
Kim Barney 24 February 2015

To John Richter: I usually agree with everything you say, but to me the story is more than a parable. My belief is that it actually happened.

4 3 Reply

A poem much interested in its meaning it is very beautiful.

2 0 Reply
Sylvia Frances Chan 07 August 2021

There is a beautiful surrealistic nature to the words. that give it a magical and terrifying vision. Lots wife has never been more sympathetic. As I said: excellent poem!

0 0 Reply
Sylvia Frances Chan 07 August 2021

I have enjoyed so much, I will reread this again sure! 5 Stars full on TOP!

0 0 Reply
Sylvia Frances Chan 07 August 2021

Anyone who saw me must have thought I was dancing. It's not inconceivable that my eyes were open. It's possible I fell facing the city.Excellent poem!

0 0 Reply
Dr Antony Theodore 10 September 2019

They say I looked back out of curiosity. But I could have had other reasons. I looked back mourning my silver bowl. Carelessly, while tying my sandal strap. a very good poem. tony

0 0 Reply
Mahtab Bangalee 27 July 2019

Serpents appeared on my path, spiders, field mice, baby vultures....// it's interesting writings

0 0 Reply
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