Wislawa Szymborska

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 him the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1996.


   We have a soul from time to time. Nobody has her non-stop all the time, nor forever possess her.

   Day after day, year after year, we could go by without her.

   Sometimes she nests for a while, in the fears and raptures from childhood, ... and sometimes in our astonishment at old age.

   Rarely does she lend us a hand ... with tedious tasks, ... such as moving furniture, ... lugging baggage, ... or walking for miles in tight shoes.

   She eludes us ... when meat must be ground, ... and expectations must be met.

   Out of every thousand conversations … she participates in one … sometimes not even at that … for she prefers silence. ... When our entrails go from dull to intense pain ... she is absent.

   She is picky: … she doesn't like to see us among crowds nor steeped in … the aspirations of dubious advantage: … The artifice of screeching snares sickens her.

   For her, joy and melancholy ... are inseparable. She is in us ... only in the union of both sentiments.

   We could count on her ... were we not sure of anything ... and curious about everything.

   Of all objects ... she would favor clocks with pendulums ... and mirrors that remain in stealth ... while no one looks at them.

   She does not say where she comes from ... nor when she would leave again, ... although it will await for such questions.

   For some reason to be ... we need her, ... and she us as well.


1 : Poem written by Wislawa Szymborska: July 1, 2000, translated from Polish into English by Claire Cavanagh in 2006, and into Spanish and back to English by Ricardo Morin in 2021.

%d bloggers like this: