Monday, February 6, 2012

Wisława Szymborska R.I.P.

Polish poet and Nobel Laureate Wisława Szymborska dies on Wednesday 1 February in Krakow, aged 88. Szymborska was described by Czesław Miłosz as "a poet of consciousness... she speaks to us, living at the same time, as one of us, reserving her private matters for herself."

I mentioned her in this blog entry from 2010. And she will also get a mention in my poetry collection from Doghouse in a poem published in THE SHOp magazine in Autumn/Winter 2010 called My Interest in Polish Poetry has been Aroused.

I love this early poem of hers, that line, The hour of do-we-vanish-too-without-a-trace is brilliant in its simplicity.

Four a.m.

The hour between night and day.
The hour between toss and turn.
The hour of thirty-year-olds.

The hour swept clean for rooster's crowing.
The hour when the earth takes back its warm embrace.
The hour of cool drafts from extinguished stars.
The hour of do-we-vanish-too-without-a-trace.

Empty hour.
Hollow. Vain.
Rock bottom of all the other hours.

No one feels fine at four a.m.
If ants feel fine at four a.m.,
we're happy for the ants. And let five a.m. come
if we've got to go on living.

Wislawa Szymborska. Translated by Stanislaw Baranczak and Clare Cavanagh.

More of her poetry here. The Guardian obituary here.


Rachel Fenton said...

That poem's not as simple as it looks. Very sad.

Michael Farry said...

Indeed, but the way she used apparently simple language to convey such profound and complex fears is impressive.

Honor said...

What a beautiful looking woman! Her poem is marvellous. It reminds me somewhat of Fleur Adcock's 'Things', although for her, 5am is the time when: "All the worse things some stalking in and stand icily about the bed, looking worse and worse and worse."