Wislawa Szymborska

Words are symbols not necessarily truthful. We endow them with meaning in order to appease our bewilderment before aspects of reality we cannot fully comprehend.
That is perhaps what makes our human consciousness so very fragile.

Wisława Szymborska, (born July 2, 1923 in Bnin [now part of Kórnik], Poland; died February 1, 2012 in Krakow), Polish poet, whose intelligent and empathetic explorations of philosophical, moral, and ethical questions earned her the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1996.


In memoriam Herta Lager Kane.

A Few Words About The Soul 1

   We have a soul from time to time. 
Nobody has her all the time,
nor possesses her forever.

Day after day,
year after year,
may go by without her.

Sometimes she nests in us for a while,
in the fears and raptures of childhood,
and sometimes at our surprise of being old.

Rarely does she lend us a hand
with routine tasks,
moving furniture,
or baggage,
or walking miles in shoes that don't fit.

She runs away
when meat is to be ground,
and hopes are to be met.

Out of every thousand talks
she'll take part in one,
if at that.
She likes silence.
When one’s entrails go from dull to intense pain
she gives up.

She is choosy:
she doesn't like us in crowds.
Our desires to get ahead and
hustling for advantage make her sick.

For her, joy and sorrow
are not opposites.
She is within us
in the union of both.

We count on her
when we're sure of nothing
and curious about everything.

The things she likes are
mirrored clocks with pendulums
working all the while,
even when no one looks at them.

She doesn't say whence she comes
nor when she'll leave again,
even tough she is waiting for these questions.

For some reason
we need her,
and she needs us just as well.


1: Poem written by Wislawa Szymborska: published July 1, 2000, original translation from the Polish by Stanislaw Baranczak and Claire Cavanagh in 2006, transposed into Spanish and English by Ricardo Morin and Billy Bussell Thompson, December 2021.

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