Wislawa Szymborska

(2 July 1923 – 1 February 2012 / Prowent)


Poem by Wislawa Szymborska

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.

Comments about Still by Wislawa Szymborska

  • Susan WilliamsSusan Williams (2/17/2018 6:04:00 PM)

    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.(Report)Reply

    3 person liked.
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  • Seamus O BrianSeamus O Brian (2/17/2018 11:43:00 AM)

    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.(Report)Reply

    3 person liked.
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  • Laurie van der Hart (2/17/2018 8:10:00 AM)

    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(Report)Reply

    3 person liked.
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  • Edward Kofi LouisEdward Kofi Louis (2/17/2018 3:57:00 AM)

    Sealed Box! ! Thanks for sharing this poem with us.(Report)Reply

    3 person liked.
    2 person did not like.
  • Bernard F. AsuncionBernard F. Asuncion (2/17/2018 1:08:00 AM)

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

    3 person liked.
    1 person did not like.
  • Rochelle Cashdan (5/20/2008 11:07:00 PM)

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

    5 person liked.
    2 person did not like.
Read all 6 comments »
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Read poems about / on: travel, son, silence, rain, laughter, evil, water, people, night, car

Poem Submitted: Monday, January 13, 2003

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