Poetry by Wislawa Szymborska

Poetry by Wislawa Szymborska


This poet won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1996, and this is the first book of her poems that I’ve read. Her work was recommended to me by Julie Bogart, the author of my daughter’s writing curriculum, as something she particularly enjoys for herself, so I looked it up on inter-library loan.

I found this copy, titled Miracle Fair, which is only one of the many books by this Polish poet. I enjoyed it, discovering that it was great reading right before bed. You may want to give reading some of her poetry a try too! Here are some favorite bits from this book:

“…the leaves of our eyelids our only covers…”

“…I dance in astounded skin, in the embrace
that creates me.”

“Every beginning, after all,
is nothing but a sequel,
and the book of events
is always open in the middle.”

“How leaky are the borders of the man-made states!”

“Only what’s human can be truly alien.”

“From out of the bushes
sometimes someone still unearths
rusted out arguments
and carries them to the garbage pile.”

“A raindrop fell on my hand…
from the ascended frost of a seal’s whiskers…”

“So here it is: the dead beetle in the road
gleams unlamented at the sun.
A glance at it would be as good as a thought:
it seems that nothing important happened here.
Important supposedly applies only to us
Only to our life, only to our death,
a death which enjoys a forced right of way.”

“The sky is where we should have started.
Window without a sill, without a frame, without a pane.
An opening wide open, with nothing
beyond it….
No place has any more of it
than any other place.
A mole is as high, sky high
as an owl beating its wings.
Whatever falls into the abyss,
falls from sky into sky….
I eat the sky, excrete the sky…
an inhabited inhabitant,
an embrace embraced,
a question that answers a question.”

“Surprise would be nothing surprising
if we only had time for it.”

“dough bloats in a bowl…”

“I am who I am.
A coincidence as inscrutable
as any other.
Other ancestors
might have been mine, after all,
then from some other nest
I would have flown,
from some other stump
I would have crawled in my shell.
In nature’s wardrobe
there are many costumes –
spider, seagull, field mouse.
Each fits like a glove from the get go
and is loyally worn
until it wears out.
I, too, had no choice,
but I can’t complain.
I could have been someone
much less singular.
Someone from a school of fish,
from an anthill, from a buzzing swarm,
a piece of landscape thrashed by the wind.
Someone much less lucky,
bred for fur
or for a holiday meal,
something swimming under a cover glass.
A tree stuck in the earth,
with a fire approaching.
A blade of grass trampled by a run
of incomprehensible events…
Fate has proved
benevolent so far.
The memory of good moments
might not have been granted me.
A penchant for comparisons
might have been with held from me.
I might have been myself – though without the wonder,
but that would have meant
being someone else.”




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