Sunday, February 10, 2008

Wislawa Szymborska

from The Vintage Book of Contemporary World Poetry:

As an "unsurpassable model of the writer's craft and a constant encouragement to trascend the obvious with thought," she has cited Montaigne's adage "See how many ends this stick has!"

Here's one that fits, despite such different circumstances, Singapore, as well as Poland:

Unexpected Meeting

We are very polite to each other,
insist it's nice meeting after all these years.

Our tigers drink milk.
Our hawks walk on the ground.
Our sharks drown in water.
Our wolves yawn in front of the open cage.

Our serpents have shaken off lightning,
monkeys--inspiration, peacocks--feathers.
The bats--long ago now--have flown out of our hari.

We fall silent in mid-phrase,
smiling beyond salvation.
Our people have nothing to say.

Translated from thye Polish by Magnus J. Krynski and Robert A Maguire


Eshuneutics said...
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Rob said...

Szymborkska is brilliant. I am always amazed by her stuff, and 'amazed' is a word I would use of very few writers.

Jee Leong Koh said...

She certainly practices what Montaigne preaches. Now off to find my own stick...