|I have not met Wislawa Syzmborska, perhaps I should give her a ring. At least to say thank you; a few years ago she gave me a wonderful gift. A wake up call for the spirit of a poet; the one sleeping inside me, who had over slept. Her words speak in short volume of things that take many volumes to explain in non poetic terms. But her thoughts do not ramble, they travel. And early one morning, on the back of Harcourt Brace & Company, they journied all the way from Poland to California to startle me. I rubbed the corners of my eyes to clear away the caustic, clouding smear born of romance novels, and was able to clearly read her words. And it was the strangest thing; while seeped in her poems, I heard a poet's voice. One which continued to grow louder and louder still, until it was absolutely unignorably loud. It was not until I recognized the originator of this penetrating, and pestering voice that finally, it stopped. And then from under the covering of dawns awakening light, I listened as my own poetic soul began to stir. It stretched, and tentatively, learned to speak. (It's still learning.)|
| Wislawa, in her Nobel Prize acceptance address, shares her thoughts on the meaning of life. Abstractly of course. After all, she is a poet.
"The world-whatever we might think when we're terrified by it's vastness and our own impotence or when we're embittered by it's indifference to individual suffering , of people, animals and perhaps even plants (for why are we so sure that plants feel no pain?); whatever we might think of its expanses pierced by the rays of stars surrounded by planets we've just begun to discover, planets already dead, still dead , we just don't know; whatever we might think this measureless theater to which we've got reserved tickets , but tickets whose life span is laughably short, bounded as it is by two arbitrary dates; whatever else we might think of this world-it is astonishing."
But "astonishing" is an epithet concealing a logical trap. We're astounded, after all, by things that deviate from some well-known and universally acknowledged norm, from an obviousness to which we've grown accustomed. But the point is, there is no such obvious world. Our astonishment exists per se, and it isn't based on a comparison with something else." -1996
The Nobel Foundation
|The following text selections are among my favorite of Wislawa's poems, and of course, I can only list so many of them without seeming over zealous.
Her books are easily found at every bookstore in every town, I recommend you pick up one or two. No matter how many times you read her poems you will find that with each additional re-read you have stumbled upon a new and refreshing stream of thought.
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