Thursday, October 20, 2011

An Introduction

Tonight I met a new poet and I am reduced to runny-nosed tears reading her beautiful, beautiful work. If you haven't already, please meet Wislawa Szymborska. I won't clog up this meeting chatting away - here she is:


Under a Certain Little Star

I apologize to coincidence for calling it necessity.
I apologize to necessity just in case I'm mistaken.
Let happiness be not angry that I take it as my own.
Let the dead not remember they scarcely smolder in my memory.
I apologize to time for the muchness of the world overlooked per second.
I apologize to old love for regarding the new as the first.
Forgive me, far-off wars, for bringing flowers home.
Forgive me, open wounds, for pricking my finger.
I apologize to those who cry out of the depths for the minuet-record.
I apologize to people at railway stations for sleeping in at five in the morning.
Pardon me, hounded hope, for laughing now and again.
Pardon me, deserts, for not rushing up with a spoonful of water.
And you, O falcon, the same these many years, in that same cage,
forever staring motionless at that selfsame spot,
absolve me, even though you are but a stuffed bird.
I apologize to the cut-down tree for the table's four legs.
I apologize to big questions for small answers.
O Truth, do not pay me too much heed.
O Solemnity, be magnanimous unto me.
Endure, mystery of existence, that I pluck out the threads of your train.
Accuse me not, O soul, of possessing you but seldom.
I apologize to everything that I cannot be everywhere.
I apologize to everyone that I cannot be every man and woman.
I know that as long as I live nothing can justify me,
because I myself am an obstacle to myself.
Take it not amiss, O speech, that I borrow weighty words,
and later try hard to make them seem light.

Translated from the Polish by Magnus Jan Krynski and Robert A. Maguire

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