Still Poem by Wislawa Szymborska


Rating: 3.2

In sealed box cars travel
names across the land,
and how far they will travel so,
and will they ever get out,
don't ask, I won't say, I don't know.

The name Nathan strikes fist against wall,
the name Isaac, demented, sings,
the name Sarah calls out for water for
the name Aaron that's dying of thirst.

Don't jump while it's moving, name David.
You're a name that dooms to defeat,
given to no one, and homeless,
too heavy to bear in this land.

Let your son have a Slavic name,
for here they count hairs on the head,
for here they tell good from evil
by names and by eyelids' shape.

Don't jump while it's moving. Your son will be Lech.
Don't jump while it's moving. Not time yet.
Don't jump. The night echoes like laughter
mocking clatter of wheels upon tracks.

A cloud made of people moved over the land,
a big cloud gives a small rain, one tear,
a small rain—one tear, a dry season.
Tracks lead off into black forest.

Cor-rect, cor-rect clicks the wheel. Gladeless forest.
Cor-rect, cor-rect. Through the forest a convoy of clamors.
Cor-rect, cor-rect. Awakened in the night I hear
cor-rect, cor-rect, crash of silence on silence.

Rochelle Cashdan 20 May 2008

My guess is that this poem of Symborska's loses in the language shift.

6 2 Reply
Susan Williams 17 February 2018

I am glad there are poets to record the history of this world in a way that makes those who weren't there feel the chill to the very marrow of their bones.

3 2 Reply
Seamus O Brian 17 February 2018

A haunting and painful indictment of the wholesale extermination of a people, based on the names they were given at their birth, at the shape of their eyes, and the lilt of their accent. A cloud of people wafting across the continent toward their execution. Brilliantly conveyed with the click-clack of the train wheels. Mesmerizing imagery. Profound condemnation of that which lies within us all that, if released, becomes monstrous.

4 3 Reply
Laurie van der Hart 17 February 2018

This great poet, one of my favourites, must be recreating the infamous rounding up of Jews under the regime, and transporting them in railway boxcars. In Russia in Communist times, the same thing was done - undesirable people were snatched from their homes and sent to Siberia. Interesting that the same spirit of religious intolerance is still alive and well in that country. STILL

4 2 Reply
Edward Kofi Louis 17 February 2018

Sealed Box! ! Thanks for sharing this poem with us.

3 3 Reply
Bernard F. Asuncion 17 February 2018

Such a great write by Wislawa Szymborska👍👍👍

3 2 Reply
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