Wislawa Szymborska

Wislawa Szymborska Poems

My apologies to chance for calling it necessity.
My apologies to necessity if I'm mistaken, after all.
Please, don't be angry, happiness, that I take you as my due.
May my dead be patient with the way my memories fade.
...

Some -
thus not all. Not even the majority of all but the minority.
Not counting schools, where one has to,
and the poets themselves,
...

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.
...

Write it. Write. In ordinary ink
on ordinary paper: they were given no food,
they all died of hunger. "All. How many?
It's a big meadow. How much grass
...

5.

In sealed box cars travel
names across the land,
and how far they will travel so,
and will they ever get out,
...

We have a soul at times.
No one’s got it non-stop,
for keeps.
Day after day,
...

After every war
someone has to clean up.
Things won’t
straighten themselves up, after all.
...

Nothing can ever happen twice.
In consequence, the sorry fact is
that we arrive here improvised
and leave without the chance to practice.
...

Why does this written doe bound through these written woods?
For a drink of written water from a spring
whose surface will xerox her soft muzzle?
Why does she lift her head; does she hear something?
...

I prefer movies.
I prefer cats.
I prefer the oaks along the Warta.
I prefer Dickens to Dostoyevsky.
...

Nothing has changed.
The body is susceptible to pain,
it must eat and breathe air and sleep,
it has thin skin and blood right underneath,
...

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?
...

It could have happened.
It had to happen.
It happened earlier. Later.
Nearer. Farther off.
...

True love. Is it normal
is it serious, is it practical?
What does the world get from two people
who exist in a world of their own?
...

Darwin.
They say he read novels to relax,
But only certain kinds:
nothing that ended unhappily.
...

To be a boxer, or not to be there
at all. O Muse, where are our teeming crowds?
Twelve people in the room, eight seats to spare
it's time to start this cultural affair.
...

17.

See how efficient it still is,
how it keeps itself in shape—
our century's hatred.
...

Against a grayisch sky
a grayer cloud
rimmed black by the sun.
On the left, that is, the right,
...

It can't take a joke,
find a star, make a bridge.
It knows nothing about weaving, mining, farming,
building ships, or baking cakes.
...

I’m a tranquilizer.
I’m effective at home.
I work in the office.
I can take exams
...

Wislawa Szymborska Biography

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 light in fragments of human reality". She became better known internationally as a result of this. Her work has been translated into English and many European languages, as well as into Arabic, Hebrew, Japanese and Chinese. Life Wisława Szymborska was born on 2 July 1923 in Prowent, Poland (present-day Bnin, Kórnik, Poland), the daughter of Wincenty and Anna Szymborski. Her family moved to Kraków in 1931 where she lived and worked until her death in early 2012. When World War II broke out in 1939, she continued her education in underground classes. From 1943, she worked as a railroad employee and managed to avoid being deported to Germany as a forced labourer. It was during this time that her career as an artist began with illustrations for an English-language textbook. She also began writing stories and occasional poems. Beginning in 1945, Szymborska took up studies of Polish language and literature before switching to sociology at the Jagiellonian University in Kraków. There she soon became involved in the local writing scene, and met and was influenced by Czesław Miłosz. In March 1945, she published her first poem Szukam słowa (Looking for a word) in the daily paper Dziennik Polski; her poems continued to be published in various newspapers and periodicals for a number of years. In 1948 she quit her studies without a degree, due to her poor financial circumstances; the same year, she married poet Adam Włodek, whom she divorced in 1954. The union was childless. Around the time of her marriage she was working as a secretary for an educational biweekly magazine as well as an illustrator. Her first book was to be published in 1949, but did not pass censorship as it "did not meet socialist requirements". Like many other intellectuals in post-war Poland, however, Szymborska remained loyal to the PRL official ideology early in her career, signing political petitions and praising Joseph Stalin, Vladimir Lenin and the realities of socialism. This attitude is seen in her debut collection Dlatego żyjemy (That is what we are living for), containing the poems "Lenin" and "Młodzieży budującej Nową Hutę" ("For the Youth who are building Nowa Huta"), about the construction of a Stalinist industrial town near Kraków. She became a member of the ruling Polish United Workers' Party. Like many communist intellectuals initially close to the official party line, Szymborska gradually grew estranged from socialist ideology and renounced her earlier political work. Although she did not officially leave the party until 1966, she began to establish contacts with dissidents. As early as 1957, she befriended Jerzy Giedroyc, the editor of the influential Paris-based emigré journal Kultura, to which she also contributed. In 1964, she opposed a Communist-backed protest to The Times against independent intellectuals, demanding freedom of speech instead. In 1953, she joined the staff of the literary review magazine Życie Literackie (Literary Life), where she continued to work until 1981 and from 1968 ran her own book review column entitled Lektury Nadobowiązkowe (Non-compulsory Reading). Many of her essays from this period were later published in book form. From 1981-83, Szymborska was an editor of the Kraków-based monthly periodical, Pismo. During the 1980s, she intensified her oppositional activities, contributing to the samizdat periodical Arka under the pseudonym "Stańczykówna", as well as to Kultura in Paris. Szymborska translated French literature into Polish, in particular Baroque poetry and the works of Agrippa d'Aubigné. In Germany, Szymborska was associated with her translator Karl Dedecius, who did much to popularize her works there. Death Wisława Szymborska died 1 February 2012 at home in Kraków, aged 88. Her manager Michał Rusinek confirmed the information and said that she "died peacefully, in her sleep". She was surrounded by friends and relatives at the time. Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski described her death on Twitter as an "irrepairable loss to Poland's culture". She was working on new poetry right until her death, though she was unable to arrange her final efforts for a book in the way she would have wanted. Her last poetry will be published later in 2012. Themes Szymborska frequently employed literary devices such as irony, paradox, contradiction and understatement, to illuminate philosophical themes and obsessions. Many of her poems feature war and terrorism. In "Calling out to the Yeti" (1957), she compared Joseph Stalin to the abominable snowman. She wrote from unusual points of view, such as a cat in the newly empty apartment of its dead owner. Her reputation rests on a relatively small body of work, fewer than 350 poems. When asked why she had published so few poems, she said: "I have a trash can in my home". Pop Culture Szymborska's poem "Nothing Twice" turned into a song by composer Andrzej Munkowski performed by Łucja Prus in 1965 makes her poetry known in Poland, rock singer Kora cover of "Nothing Twice" was a hit in 1994. The poem "Love At First Sight" was used in the film Turn Left, Turn Right, starring Takeshi Kaneshiro and Gigi Leung. Three Colors: Red, a film directed by Krzysztof Kieślowski, was inspired by Szymborska's poem, "Love At First Sight". Awards 1954: The City of Kraków Prize for Literature 1963: The Polish Ministry of Culture Prize 1991: The Goethe Prize 1995: The Herder Prize 1995: Honorary Doctor of the Adam Mickiewicz University (Poznań) 1996: The Polish PEN Club prize 1996: Nobel Prize for Literature 2011: Order of the White Eagle)

The Best Poem Of Wislawa Szymborska

Under One Small Star

My apologies to chance for calling it necessity.
My apologies to necessity if I'm mistaken, after all.
Please, don't be angry, happiness, that I take you as my due.
May my dead be patient with the way my memories fade.
My apologies to time for all the world I overlook each second.
My apologies to past loves for thinking that the latest is the first.
Forgive me, distant wars, for bringing flowers home.
Forgive me, open wounds, for pricking my finger.
I apologize for my record of minuets to those who cry from the depths.
I apologize to those who wait in railway stations for being asleep today at five a.m.
Pardon me, hounded hope, for laughing from time to time.
Pardon me, deserts, that I don't rush to you bearing a spoonful of water.
And you, falcon, unchanging year after year, always in the same cage,
your gaze always fixed on the same point in space,
forgive me, even if it turns out you were stuffed.
My apologies to the felled tree for the table's four legs.
My apologies to great questions for small answers.
Truth, please don't pay me much attention.
Dignity, please be magnanimous.
Bear with me, O mystery of existence, as I pluck the occasional thread from your train.
Soul, don't take offense that I've only got you now and then.
My apologies to everything that I can't be everywhere at once.
My apologies to everyone that I can't be each woman and each man.
I know I won't be justified as long as I live,
since I myself stand in my own way.
Don't bear me ill will, speech, that I borrow weighty words,
then labor heavily so that they may seem light.

Wislawa Szymborska Comments

Justaname Parer 14 May 2005

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.

36 10 Reply
Chris Long 21 September 2017

Hi

3 19 Reply
Amanda Funmilayo Adebakin 05 December 2017

I actually think there is a lot of things to learn from this reading alone. At first it was hard to pronounce and spell WISLAWA SZYMBORSKA, but now i know how to. there is a lot of things to actually concenterate on in this poem, by the sides i love poem that cracks the brain open. the idea of this poem is the most incredible poetry writing i have ever read. this one is better than the other ones i have read all ready, this is in credible and brilliant.

6 3 Reply
Amanda funmilayo adebakin 05 December 2017

This poem is a very great stuff to put all your mind and imagination into to understand, i love it.

4 2 Reply
Jo Bird 25 March 2021

The "image " of this magnificent poem is incomplete, which misses tha final triumphant message

0 0 Reply
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Monika 30 November 2018

Regarding crediting the translator - Szymborska had her poems printed in Polish and English, there are bi-lingual books available that has been printed under her supervision.

3 0 Reply
Marion Chasteau 31 August 2018

This poet is no more. I am looking for her poem 'Life while you wait'

4 0 Reply
Merrill Leffler 23 April 2018

I love Szymborska's poems — however, they are a collaboration between poet and translator (s) and unless I'm missing it, you don't credit the translators.

4 1 Reply

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