Wislawa Szymborska

No 9

Wisława Szymborska

“These little nothings I pick them up
To smooth the jagged edges
Of this worried traveler
That's what poems should do”
Dorothea Lasky, “What poets should do
Wisława Szymborska writes with the kind of elegance that belongs to people with a sense of humor. Her poems dwell on the most minuscule, common, and feeble things with a grace that makes them impossible to read without drawing a smile or at times even grazing our hearts. The well founded (and outraged) opinion on why dying is something you just don’t do to a cat reveals the subversive quality of her poetic gift: she can find the beauty and vitality that will fool the horror of grief or the monotony of passing days.
Her pieces of prose, briefest comments on fairy tales, Chinese symbols, botany books, statistical yearbooks, and even on the wall calendar of 1973, spread like the long kept treasures of a collector of seashells and pebbles. The findings of “an old-fashioned person who thinks reading books is the most beautiful pastime created by humankind”, someone who has chosen the road of perpetual wonder, the ongoing search for the words that will unveil the celestial within the ordinary. But to describe “something so evident, so immediate, so ineffable, as love, as the taste of fruit or water”(Borges, 1977) is all too difficult. And it is evident: as it happens, with Wisława Szymborska we have also fallen in love


Nonrequired reading: Prose Pieces, Clare Cavanagh Trans., United States of America, Harper Collins, 2002 [1992]
Poems New and Collected, Stanislav Baranczak and Clare Cavanagh Trans., United States of America, Harvest, 1998 [1996]
Wislawa Szymborska
Back to blog