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Wislawa Szmborska (Polish)

Wislawa Szymborska was born in Kórnik in Western Poland on 2 July 1923. From 1931 she lived in Krakow, where during 1945-1948 she studied Polish Literature and Sociology at the Jagiellonian University. Szymborska made her début in March 1945 with a poem “Szukam slowa” (I am Looking for a Word) in the daily “Dziennik Polski”. Szymborska … Continued

Wislawa Szymborska was born in Kórnik in Western Poland on 2 July 1923. From 1931 she lived in Krakow, where during 1945-1948 she studied Polish Literature and Sociology at the Jagiellonian University. Szymborska made her début in March 1945 with a poem “Szukam slowa” (I am Looking for a Word) in the daily “Dziennik Polski”.

Szymborska published 16 collections of poetry: Dlatego zyjemy (1952), Pytania zadawane sobie (1954), Wolanie do Yeti (1957), Sól (1962), Wiersze wybrane (1964), Poezje wybrane (1967), Sto pociech (1967), Poezje (1970), Wszelki wypadek (1972), Wybór wierszy (1973), Tarsjusz i inne wiersze (1976), Wielka liczba (1976), Poezje wybrane II (1983), Ludzie na moscie (1986). Koniec i poczatek (1993, 1996), Widok z ziarnkiem piasku. 102 wiersze (1996). Wislawa Szymborska has also translated French poetry.  She died in 2002 at the age of 101.

The End and the Beginning

After every war
someone has to clean up.
Things won’t
straighten themselves up, after all.
Someone has to push the rubble
to the sides of the road,
so the corpse-laden wagons can pass.

Someone has to get mired
in scum and ashes,
sofa-springs,
splintered glass,
and bloody rags.

Someone must drag in a girder
to prop up a wall.
Someone must glaze a window,
rehang a door.

Photogenic it’s not,
and takes years.
All the cameras have left
for another war.

Again we’ll need bridges
and new railway stations.

Sleeves will go ragged
from rolling them up.
Someone, broom in hand,
still recalls how it was.
Someone listens
and nods with unsevered head.
Yet others milling about
already find it dull.

From behind the bush
sometimes someone still unearths
rust-eaten arguments
and carries them to the garbage pile.

Those who knew
what was going on here
must give way to
those who know little.
And less than little.
And finally as little as nothing.

In the grass which has overgrown
causes and effects,
someone must be stretched out,
blade of grass in his mouth,
gazing at the clouds.

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