Tuesday, 14 February 2012


La Cambe, Normandy

Reality demands
we also state the following:
life goes on.
It does so near Cannae and Borodino,
at Kosovo Polje and Guernica.

There is a gas station
in a small plaza in Jericho,
and freshly painted
benches near Bila Hora.
Letters travel
between Pearl Harbor and Hastings,
a furniture truck passes
before the eyes of the lion of Cheronea,
and only an atmospheric front advances
towards the blossoming orchards near Verdun.

There is so much of Everything
that Nothing is quite well concealed.
Music flows
from yachts near Actium
and couples on board dance in the sunlight.

So much keeps happening,
that it must be happening everywhere.
Where stone is heaped on stone,
there is an ice cream truck
besieged by children.
Where Hiroshima had been,
Hiroshima is again
manufacturing products
for everyday use.

Not without its charms is this terrible world,
not without its mornings
worth our waking.

In the fields of Maciejowice
the grass is green
and on the grass is -- you know how grass is --
transparent dew.

Maybe there are no fields other than battlefields,
those still remembered,
and those long forgotten,
birch woods and cedar woods,
snows and sands, iridescent swamps,
and ravines of dark defeat
where today, in sudden need,
you squat behind a bush.

What moral flows from this? Maybe none.
But what really flows is quickly-drying blood,
and as always, some rivers and clouds.

On the tragic mountain passes
the wind blows hats off heads
and we cannot help--
but laugh.

Wislawa Szymborska

Nobel Prize Winner 1996

translated by  Joanna Trzeciak


  1. Hmmm.
    The way this ends reminds me of your writing Friko.
    Life does go on.

  2. My, my, my, my, my. I love her poetry. What an extraordinary poem this is. I had not read this previously. Now, I simply have to get a book of her collected poems. A must have. Thank you, Friko.

  3. She may have had a small output, as some say, but had there only been "The Joy of Writing" and this, it would have been enough to earn her poet's place.

    One year (if you can imagine--not my choice of venue, you can be sure), we "vacationed" in Ypres. I will never forget it, and what made it so memorable were the layers over layers of history, all covered now with green grass and a farmer's fields. Yet somehow the stories were still there.

    What moral flows from this? Maybe none.
    But what really flows is quickly-drying blood,
    and as always, some rivers and clouds.

  4. Reality. Sometimes you can squeeze value out of the deal, sometimes not.

  5. What a treasure you have here for us. I've not been by before. I didn't realize what pleasure I'd been missing.


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