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'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 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.

„Our snakes have shed their lightning,
our apes their flights of fancy“

—  Wisława Szymborska

"An Unexpected Meeting"
Poems New and Collected (1998), Salt (1962)
Context: Our snakes have shed their lightning,
our apes their flights of fancy,
our peacocks have renounced their plumes.
The bats flew out of our hair long ago. We fall silent in mid-sentence,
all smiles, past help.
Our humans
don't know how to talk to one another.

„Our humans
don't know how to talk to one another.“

—  Wisława Szymborska

"An Unexpected Meeting"
Poems New and Collected (1998), Salt (1962)
Context: Our snakes have shed their lightning,
our apes their flights of fancy,
our peacocks have renounced their plumes.
The bats flew out of our hair long ago. We fall silent in mid-sentence,
all smiles, past help.
Our humans
don't know how to talk to one another.

„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.

„Our times are still not safe and sane enough
for faces to show ordinary sorrow.“

—  Wisława Szymborska

"Smiles"
Poems New and Collected (1998), A Large Number (1976)
Context: The going's rough, and so we need the laugh
of bright incisors, molars of goodwill.
Our times are still not safe and sane enough
for faces to show ordinary sorrow.

„Within him, there's awful darkness, in the darkness a small boy.“

—  Wisława Szymborska

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

„Inspiration is not the exclusive privilege of poets or artists.“

—  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."

„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.

„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.

„This adult male. This person on earth.
Ten billion nerve cells. Ten pints of blood
pumped by ten ounces of heart.
This object took three billion years to emerge.“

—  Wisława Szymborska

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

„I felt age within me. Distance.
The futility of wandering. Torpor.“

—  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.

„My apologies to the felled tree for the table's four legs.
My apologies to great questions for small answers.“

—  Wisława Szymborska

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

„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.

„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.

„Something doesn't start
at its usual time.
Something doesn't happen
as it should.“

—  Wisława Szymborska

"Cat in an Empty Apartment"
Poems New and Collected (1998), The End and the Beginning (1993)
Context: Something doesn't start
at its usual time.
Something doesn't happen
as it should.
Someone was always, always here,
then suddenly disappeared
and stubbornly stays disappeared.

„After every war
someone has to tidy up.
Things won't pick themselves up, after all.Someone has to shove
the rubble to the roadsides
so the carts loaded with corpses
can get by.“

—  Wisława Szymborska

"The End and the Beginning"
Poems New and Collected (1998), The End and the Beginning (1993)

„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.

„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!

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