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.

„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.

„My apologies to great questions for small answers.“

—  Wisława Szymborska

"Under One Small Star"
Poems New and Collected (1998), Could Have (1972)
Context: My apologies to the felled tree for the table's four legs.
My apologies to great questions for small answers.

„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.

„Our stockpile of antiquity grows constantly“

—  Wisława Szymborska

"Census"
Poems New and Collected (1998), No End of Fun (1967)
Context: Our stockpile of antiquity grows constantly,
it's overflowing,
reckless squatters jostle for a place in history,
hordes of sword fodder,
Hector's nameless extras, no less brave than he,
thousands upon thousands of singular faces,
each the first and last for all time,
in each a pair of inimitable eyes.
How easy it was to live not knowing this,
so sentimental, so spacious.

„The window has a wonderful view of a lake,
but the view doesn't view itself.“

—  Wisława Szymborska

"View with a Grain of Sand"
Poems New and Collected (1998), The People on the Bridge (1986)
Context: The window has a wonderful view of a lake,
but the view doesn't view itself.
It exists in this world
colorless, shapeless,
soundless, odorless, and painless.

„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.

„Few of them made it to thirty.
Old age was the privilege of rocks and trees.“

—  Wisława Szymborska

"Our Ancestors' Short Lives"
Poems New and Collected (1998), The People on the Bridge (1986)
Context: Few of them made it to thirty.
Old age was the privilege of rocks and trees.
Childhood ended as fast as wolf cubs grow.
One had to hurry, to get on with life
before the sun went down,
before the first snow.

„As far as you've come can't be undone.“

—  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.

„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.

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„I'm working on the world,
revised, improved edition“

—  Wisława Szymborska

I'm Working on the World"
Poems New and Collected (1998), Calling Out to Yeti (1957)
Context: I'm working on the world,
revised, improved edition,
featuring fun for fools
blues for brooders,
combs for bald pates,
tricks for old dogs.

„I'd have to be really quick
to describe clouds —
a split second's enough
for them to start being something else.“

—  Wisława Szymborska

"Clouds"
Poems New and Collected (1998), New Poems 1993 - 97
Context: I'd have to be really quick
to describe clouds —
a split second's enough
for them to start being something else. Their trademark:
they don't repeat a single
shape, shade, pose, arrangement.

„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.

„Even sight heightened to become all-seeing
will do you no good without a sense of taking part.“

—  Wisława Szymborska

"Conversation with a Stone".
Poems New and Collected (1998), Salt (1962)
Context: No other sense can make up for your missing sense of taking part.
Even sight heightened to become all-seeing
will do you no good without a sense of taking part.
You shall not enter, you have only a sense of what the sense should be,
only its seed, imagination.

„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.

„I'm sorry that my voice was hard.“

—  Wisława Szymborska

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

„He has only just learned to tell dreams from waking“

—  Wisława Szymborska

"No End of Fun"
Poems New and Collected (1998), No End of Fun (1967)
Context: He has only just learned to tell dreams from waking;
only just realized that he is he;
only just whittled with his hand né fin
a flint, a rocket ship;
easily drowned in the ocean's teaspoon,
not even funny enough to tickle the void:
sees only with his eyes;
hears only with his ears;
his speech's personal best is the conditional;
he uses his reason to pick holes in reason.
In short, he's next to to one,
but his head's full of freedom, omniscience and the Being
beyond his foolish meat —
did you ever!

„He's no end of fun, for all you say.“

—  Wisława Szymborska

"No End of Fun"
Poems New and Collected (1998), No End of Fun (1967)
Context: He's no end of fun, for all you say.
Poor little beggar.
A human, if ever we saw one.

„And how can we talk of order overall
when the very placement of the stars
leaves us doubting just what shines for whom?“

—  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.

„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.

„Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Etiam egestas wisi a erat. Morbi imperdiet, mauris ac auctor dictum.“

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