Monday, February 6, 2012

Wislawa Szymborska, rest in peace

Nothing Twice
by Wislawa Szymborska
translated by Clare Cavanagh and Stanislaw Baranczak

Nothing can ever happen twice.
In consequence, the sorry fact is
that we arrive here improvised
and leave without the chance to practice.

Even if there is no one dumber,
if you're the planet's biggest dunce,
you can't repeat the class in summer:
this course is only offered once.

No day copies yesterday,
no two nights will teach what bliss is
in precisely the same way,
with precisely the same kisses.

One day, perhaps some idle tongue
mentions your name by accident:
I feel as if a rose were flung
into the room, all hue and scent.

The next day, though you're here with me,
I can't help looking at the clock:
A rose? A rose? What could that be?
Is it a flower or a rock?

Why do we treat the fleeting day
with so much needless fear and sorrow?
It's in its nature not to stay:
Today is always gone tomorrow.

With smiles and kisses, we prefer
to seek accord beneath our star,
although we're different (we concur)
just as two drops of water are.

Szymborska was one of the few living poets on my radar when I was in high school. I can recall finding a few of her poems on Wondering Minstrels and pasting them into the cluttered Word files I squirreled away for inspiration. I was just thinking the other day that I should read more of her and buy her collected poetry... and I don't want to touch whatever Seraphic's friend has against her at the moment. The one thing she is, without question, is a shameless poet.

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