Wisława Szymborska quotes

Wisława Szymborska photo
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Wisława Szymborska

Birthdate: 2. July 1923
Date of death: 1. February 2012
Other names: ویسواوا شیمبورسکا

Maria Wisława Anna Szymborska was 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. In Poland, Szymborska's books have reached sales rivaling prominent prose authors: although she once remarked in a poem, "Some Like Poetry" , 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, Persian and Chinese. Wikipedia

„I remember it so clearly —
how people, seeing me, would break off in midword.
Laughter died.“

—  Wisława Szymborska

"Soliloquy for Cassandra"
Poems New and Collected (1998), No End of Fun (1967)
Context: I remember it so clearly —
how people, seeing me, would break off in midword.
Laughter died.
Lovers' hands unclasped.
Children ran to their mothers.
I didn't even know their short-lived names.
And that song about a little green leaf —
no one ever finished it near me.

„They were neither good nor evil now — every living thing
was simply creeping or hopping along in the mass panic.“

—  Wisława Szymborska

"Lot's Wife"
Poems New and Collected (1998), A Large Number (1976)
Context: I felt age within me. Distance.
The futility of wandering. Torpor.
I looked back setting my bundle down.
I looked back not knowing where to set my foot.
Serpents appeared on my path,
spiders, field mice, baby vultures.
They were neither good nor evil now — every living thing
was simply creeping or hopping along in the mass panic.

„Those who knew
what this was all about
must make way for those
who know little.“

—  Wisława Szymborska

"The End and the Beginning"
Poems New and Collected (1998), The End and the Beginning (1993)
Context: Those who knew
what this was all about
must make way for those
who know little.
And less than that.
And at last nothing less than nothing.

„Only what is human can truly be foreign.“

—  Wisława Szymborska

"Psalm"
Poems New and Collected (1998), A Large Number (1976)
Context: And how can we talk of order overall
when the very placement of the stars
leaves us doubting just what shines for whom?Not to speak of the fog's reprehensible drifting!
And dust blowing all over the steppes
as if they hadn't been partitioned!
And the voices coasting on obliging airwaves,
that conspiratorial squeaking, those indecipherable mutters!
Only what is human can truly be foreign.

„Within him, there's awful darkness, in the darkness a small boy. God of humor, do something about him, OK?
God of humor, do something about him today.“

—  Wisława Szymborska

"A Film from the Sixties"
Poems New and Collected (1998), No End of Fun (1967)

„I'm sorry that my voice was hard.
Look down on yourselves from the stars, I cried,
look down on yourselves from the stars.
They heard me and lowered their eyes.“

—  Wisława Szymborska

"Soliloquy for Cassandra"
Poems New and Collected (1998), No End of Fun (1967)

„Nothing's a gift, it's all on loan.
I'm drowning in debts up to my ears.
I'll have to pay for myself
with my self,
give up my life for my life.“

—  Wisława Szymborska

"Nothing's a Gift"
Poems New and Collected (1998), The End and the Beginning (1993)

„I am a tarsier and a tarsier's son,
the grandson and great-grandson of tarsiers“

—  Wisława Szymborska

"Tarsier"
Poems New and Collected (1998), No End of Fun (1967)
Context: I am a tarsier and a tarsier's son,
the grandson and great-grandson of tarsiers,
a tiny creature, made up of two pupils
and whatever simply could not be left out...

„We call it a grain of sand
but it calls itself neither grain nor sand.“

—  Wisława Szymborska

"View with a Grain of Sand"
Poems New and Collected (1998), The People on the Bridge (1986)
Context: We call it a grain of sand
but it calls itself neither grain nor sand.
It does just fine without a name,
whether general, particular,
permanent, passing,
incorrect or apt.

„I no longer require
your stone gods, your ruins with legible inscriptions.“

—  Wisława Szymborska

"Archeology"
Poems New and Collected (1998), The People on the Bridge (1986)
Context: Millennia have passed
since you first called me archaeology.
I no longer require
your stone gods, your ruins with legible inscriptions.
Show me your whatever
and I'll tell you who you were.

„It looks like poets will always have their work cut out for them.“

—  Wisława Szymborska

The Poet and the World (1996)
Context: Granted, in daily speech, where we don't stop to consider every word, we all use phrases like "the ordinary world," "ordinary life," "the ordinary course of events"… But in the language of poetry, where every word is weighed, nothing is usual or normal. Not a single stone and not a single cloud above it. Not a single day and not a single night after it. And above all, not a single existence, not anyone's existence in this world.
It looks like poets will always have their work cut out for them.

„In Heraclitus' river
a fish has imagined the fish of all fish“

—  Wisława Szymborska

"In Heraclitus' River"
Poems New and Collected (1998), Salt (1962)
Context: In Heraclitus' river
a fish has imagined the fish of all fish,
a fish kneels to the fish, a fish sings to the fish,
a fish begs the fish to ease its fishy lot.

„Gone, lost, scattered to the four winds. It still surprises me
how little now remains“

—  Wisława Szymborska

"A Speech at the Lost-and-Found"
Poems New and Collected (1998), Could Have (1972)
Context: Gone, lost, scattered to the four winds. It still surprises me
how little now remains, one first person sing., temporarily
declined in human form, just now making such a fuss
about a blue umbrella left yesterday on a bus.

„Whatever inspiration is, it's born from a continuous "I don't know."“

—  Wisława Szymborska

The Poet and the World (1996)
Context: Inspiration is not the exclusive privilege of poets or artists. There is, there has been, there will always be a certain group of people whom inspiration visits. It's made up of all those who've consciously chosen their calling and do their job with love and imagination. It may include doctors, teachers, gardeners — I could list a hundred more professions. Their work becomes one continuous adventure as long as they manage to keep discovering new challenges in it. Difficulties and setbacks never quell their curiosity. A swarm of new questions emerges from every problem that they solve. Whatever inspiration is, it's born from a continuous "I don't know."

„There's no life
that couldn't be immortal
if only for a moment.“

—  Wisława Szymborska

"On Death, Without Exaggeration"
Poems New and Collected (1998), The People on the Bridge (1986)
Context: There's no life
that couldn't be immortal
if only for a moment.Death
always arrives by that very moment too late.In vain it tugs at the knob
of the invisible door.
As far as you've come can't be undone.

„Don't bear me ill will, speech, that I borrow weighty words,
then labor heavily so that they may seem light.“

—  Wisława Szymborska

"Under One Small Star"
Poems New and Collected (1998), Could Have (1972)
Context: 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.

„He's no end of fun, for all you say.
Poor little beggar.
A human, if ever we saw one.“

—  Wisława Szymborska

"No End of Fun"
Poems New and Collected (1998), No End of Fun (1967)

„Contemporary poets are skeptical and suspicious even, or perhaps especially, about themselves.“

—  Wisława Szymborska

The Poet and the World (1996)
Context: Contemporary poets are skeptical and suspicious even, or perhaps especially, about themselves. They publicly confess to being poets only reluctantly, as if they were a little ashamed of it. But in our clamorous times it's much easier to acknowledge your faults, at least if they're attractively packaged, than to recognize your own merits, since these are hidden deeper and you never quite believe in them yourself.

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