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Wisława Szymborska

  • Whether you want it or not, / your genes have a political past, / your skin a political tone, / your eyes a political color, / What you say resounds, / what you don't say is also / politically significant.

    • Wisława Szymborska,
    • "Children of the Epoch," in Daniela Gioseffi, ed., Women on War: An International Anthology of Writings From Antiquity to the Present ()
  • Here we are, naked lovers, / beautiful to each other — and that's enough — / the leaves of our eyelids our only covers, / we're lying amidst deep night.

    • Wisława Szymborska,
    • "Openness," in Joanna Trzeciak, trans., Selected Poems ()
  • The trees? Could you explain to me / their unrelenting whispering? / The wind may know, you say to me, / but how, is just a mystery.

    • Wisława Szymborska,
    • "Openness," in Joanna Trzeciak, trans., Selected Poems ()
  • I let him invent me / in the image of the reflection / in his eyes. I dance, I dance / in an abundance of sudden wings. / ... / When he's not looking at me, / I search for my reflection / on the wall. All I see / is a nail on which a painting hung.

    • Wisława Szymborska,
    • "Drinking Wine," in Joanna Trzeciak, trans., Selected Poems ()
  • Just let him come back, / let him show up. / Then he'll find out / you don't do that to a cat. / Going toward him / faking reluctance, / slowly, / on very offended paws. / And no jumping, no purring at first.

    • Wisława Szymborska,
    • "Cat in an Empty Apartment," in Joanna Trzeciak, trans., Selected Poems ()
  • Every beginning, after all, / is nothing but a sequel, / and the book of events / is always open in the middle.

    • Wisława Szymborska,
    • "Love at First Sight," in Joanna Trzeciak, trans., Selected Poems ()
  • Certain misfortunes / were never to happen again / such as war and hunger and so forth.

    • Wisława Szymborska,
    • "The Turn of the Century," in Joanna Trzeciak, trans., Selected Poems ()
  • We are children of our era; / our era is political. / ... / Meanwhile people were dying, / animals perishing, / houses burning, / and fields growing wild, / just as in times most remote / and less political.

    • Wisława Szymborska,
    • "Children of Our Era," in Joanna Trzeciak, trans., Selected Poems ()
  • There is no life that / couldn't be immortal, / if only for a split second.

    • Wisława Szymborska,
    • "On Death, Without Exaggeration," in Joanna Trzeciak, trans., Selected Poems ()
  • I know that as long as I live nothing can excuse me, / since I am my own obstacle. / Do not hold it against me, O speech, that I borrow weighty words, / and then labor to make them light.

    • Wisława Szymborska,
    • "Under a Certain Little Star," in Joanna Trzeciak, trans., Selected Poems ()
  • I'm old-fashioned and think that reading books is the most glorious pastime that humankind has yet devised.

    • Wisława Szymborska,
    • "From the Author," Nonrequired Reading ()
  • Such is the memoir's tone. Noble and touching. But is it sincere? Oh, let's not be petty, seeking sincerity in memoirs doesn't make much sense.

    • Wisława Szymborska,
    • "Blowing Your Own Horn," Nonrequired Reading ()
  • In his work, every memoirist leaves behind a better or worse likeness of the people he knew, alongside two self-portraits. The first of these two is painted intentionally, while the second is unplanned, accidental. It goes without saying that the first is more flattering than the second, and the second is more faithful than the first.

    • Wisława Szymborska,
    • "The Courtier's Inferno," Nonrequired Reading ()
  • Today when two people decide upon a thoughtless and precipitate abbreviation of the physical space between them, they think, at least at that moment, that they're mutually attracted and drawn together by an overwhelming force.

    • Wisława Szymborska,
    • "I Was Traveling With the Fairest," Nonrequired Reading ()
  • It's a well-known fact: in order to follow doctor's orders, you have to be healthy as a horse.

    • Wisława Szymborska,
    • "Cat Music," Nonrequired Reading ()
  • Animals don't even try to look any different from what nature intended. They humbly wear their shells, scales, spines, plumes, pelts, and down. ... The conscious impulse to change one's appearance is found only among humans.

    • Wisława Szymborska,
    • "A Word on Nakedness," Nonrequired Reading ()

Wisława Szymborska, Polish poet, translator, Nobel winner


Full name: Wisława Szymborska-Włodek.