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Friday, 25 October 2013

Wislawa Szymborska: Discovery


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File:Newborn of Lesser short-nosed fruit bat.JPG

Lesser short-nosed fruit bat (Cynopterus brachyotis), newborn (captured within 12 hours of birth): photo by Anton Croos, 20 September 2013


I believe in the great discovery.
I believe in the man who will make the discovery.
I believe in the fear of the man who will make the discovery.


I believe in his face going white,
his queasiness, his upper lip drenched in cold sweat.


I believe in the burning of his notes,
burning them into ashes,
burning them to the last scrap.


I believe in the scattering of numbers,
scattering them without regret.


I believe in the man’s haste,
in the precision of his movements,
in his free will.


I believe in the shattering of tablets,
the pouring out of liquids,
the extinguishing of rays.


I am convinced this will end well,
that it will not be too late,
that it will take place without witnesses.


I’m sure no one will find out what happened,
not the wife, not the wall,
not even the bird that might squeal in its song.


I believe in the refusal to take part.
I believe in the ruined career.
I believe in the wasted years of work.
I believe in the secret taken to the grave.


These words soar for me beyond all rules
without seeking support from actual examples.
My faith is strong, blind, and without foundation.


Wislawa Szymborska (1923-2012): Discovery, from Poems New and Collected 1957-1997, translated by Stanislaw Baranczak and Clare Cavanagh



File:Lesser short-nosed fruit bat (Cynopterus brachyotis).jpg

 Greater short-nosed fruit bat (Cynopterus sphinx), Batticaloa, Sri Lanka (seen in daylight while it was moving branch to branch): photo by Anton Croos, 11 March 2012

6 comments:

TC said...

Wislawa Szymborska: Discovery

Unknown said...

Good Morning Tom

I don't know why but I too
believed in the refusal to take part.
I believed in the ruined career.
I believed in the wasted years of work. Damn!

Blind faith, utterly without foundation. Therein lies the strength of faith.

Yes

This will certainly end well. I'm taking it on faith.

Harris

Unknown said...

The movie - I had missed that - how utterly . . . . superlative (seriously, could fill in so many)

But the bats. Can you explain the bats to this simple poet who is about to burn/erase/shred all his work?

Thanks for a [superlative] [sensational, great, awesome, etc.] wakeup from there to here

Love,

Harris

ACravan said...

I believe in the man’s haste,
in the precision of his movements,
in his free will.

I am convinced this will end well,
that it will not be too late,
that it will take place without witnesses.

A friend who lives in India these days tweaked me this morning with a story from The Spectator (UK) by Matthew Parris, which had been reprinted in the Deccan Chronicle. My friend has lately decided she's an atheist (pretty late in life, but no matter) and she sends me all kinds of pro-atheist/anti-"believer" articles. I wish she wouldn't because they tend to be tedious and self-righteous and this one was no exception.

I really like this poem, though. And the bats.

Curtis

Wooden Boy said...

There's some secret antidote here to the colonial drive of what's commonly called science. Her hope seems crazy but I feel the need for it too.

TC said...

Antidote, yes, hope, yes... frail, a sliver, like the tiny newborn bat, but still hope... there's always the one that gets away... (until there isn't).