Women’s Day. The reason to talk about wonderful polish poet Wisława Szymborska. She had a great impact into polish modern poetry and into cracovian bohema. I hope that some of you know her already. If not, I hope you’ll like the poem below and you’ll search for more. This time only in English.
About Wisława Szymborska – by my cute friend Marta G. ♥
Wisława Szymborska is considered to have been one of the most prominent figures of Polish poetry. She was born in 1923 in Bnin, a small town in Western Poland, but at the age of eight her family moved to Kraków where she had lived most of her life and where she died at the age of eighty-eight on February 1, 2012. Szymborska studied Polish literature and sociology at Jagiellonian University. During her university years she made her first steps as a poet and an editor whilst she became involved in literacy scene of Kraków. Her poetry, as it could be expected, was highly influenced by the World War II and politics but Szymborska went much further than that. The reason that her poetry is so remarkable is that she managed to engage a single human-being in the universal context. She writes about our existential conditions better than anyone I know. She’s an expert in capturing little things of our everyday lives and putting them into the bigger picture. She is also known for her beautiful love poems which are always slightly ironic, because there is no one thing in this world that we should be taking too seriously. In 1996, Szymborska won the Nobel Prize in Literature. Her other prizes included the Polish PEN Club prize, the Goethe Prize and the Herder Prize.
One her well-known poem.
Nothing can ever happen twice.
In consequence, the sorry fact is
that we arrive here improvised
and leave without the chance to practice.
Even if there is no one dumber,
if you’re the planet’s biggest dunce,
you can’t repeat the class in summer:
this course is only offered once.
No day copies yesterday,
no two nights will teach what bliss is
in precisely the same way,
with precisely the same kisses.
One day, perhaps some idle tongue
mentions your name by accident:
I feel as if a rose were flung
into the room, all hue and scent.
The next day, though you’re here with me,
I can’t help looking at the clock:
A rose? A rose? What could that be?
Is it a flower or a rock?
Why do we treat the fleeting day
with so much needless fear and sorrow?
It’s in its nature not to stay:
Today is always gone tomorrow.
With smiles and kisses, we prefer
to seek accord beneath our star,
although we’re different (we concur)
just as two drops of water are.
translated by Clare Cavanagh and Stanislaw Baranczak
Marta has translated one of the poem and decided to share with us. Thank you, my dear!
„Love at first sight”
They are both so convinced that
the feeling they felt was so sudden.
It’s beautiful, such certainty,
but uncertainty is better.
They think that if they didn’t know each other before,
nothing ever could’ve happened between them.
What would have to say about this all the streets,
on which they could be passing each other
for so long now?
I would like to ask them if they remember –
maybe in the revolving door face to face?
„Excuse me” in the crowd?
a voice „wrong number” on the phone?
-but I know their answer.
No, they don’t remember.
They’d be very surprised to hear that
for a long time now
a coincidence was playing with their lives.
Not yet ready for them to turn into fate,
it would bring them closer and then further again,
it would make them cross in the street
and jump aside in the last moment
suppressing a giggle.
There were signs and signals
so what that illegible,
Maybe three years ago
or the last Tuesday
one of the leafs flew from one shoulder to another?
There was something lost and something picked up from the street.
maybe yet a ball in the bushes of childhood?
There were door knobs and bells
on which sometimes a touch would set on touch.
Luggages laying next to each other in the waiting store.
the same dream blurred right away after waking up.
Yet every beginning is just a „to be continued”
and the book of incidents is always opened in the middle.
She is also an author of many cute, funny, ironic collages you see above. You can see original ones in the National Museum of Cracow on the exhibition Szymborska’s Drawer. It’s wonderful, I hardly recommend you to go there and meet Szymborska.
So to fall in love with her, search for her poests were translated into English. Few years ago there was published a volume of her poetry, buy it in Empik or Znak.
And one amazing project to find out more about her work. Fortuna Plays Szymborska mixes her voice with a music as a backgound for her great collages. All translated into English. Beautiful thing.