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Sunday 1 March 2015

Wislawa Szymborska: Some like poetry


 Zawiercie, Poland: photo by Koos Fernhout, 6 January 2013

Some --
therefore not all.
Not even a majority just a minority.
Not counting schools where they have to,
and the poets themselves,
that's probably two per thousand.

Like --
but one also likes noodle soup,
one likes compliments and the colour blue,
one likes an old scarf,
one likes to have one's way,
one likes to pat a dog.

Poetry --
but what is poetry.
There have already been
several shaky answers
to this question.
But I don't know and I don't know and I hold on to this
like a saving hand-rail.

Zawiercie, Poland: photo by Koos Fernhout, 6 January 2013

Image, Source: b&w film neg.

Norris Dam and powerhouse. Night view of Norris Dam with floodlighting. The more spectacular dams of the TVA (Tennessee Valley Authority) are equipped to be floodlit at night and are popular excursion points. Pinpoint lights along top of dam are small lenses in back of the handrail bracket road lighting fixtures. Wet spots on dam are the result of small shrinkage cracks during initial years which later sealed themselves by the sediment contained in the water: photographer unknown, between 1933 and 1945

The Spiral Staircase, directed by Robert Siodmak, 1946: snapshot from film trailer by wondersinthedark, 2008

Spiral staircase in a tall pagoda, Singapore: photo by Ray Tornes, 23 April 2007

Niektórzy -- 
czyli nie wszyscy. 
Nawet nie większość wszystkich ale mniejszość. 
Nie licząc szkół, gdzie się musi, 
i samych poetów, 
będzie tych osób chyba dwie na tysiąc. 

Lubią -- 
ale lubi się także rosół z makaronem, 
lubi się komplementy i kolor niebieski, 
lubi się stary szalik, 
lubi się stawiać na swoim, 
lubi się głaskać psa. 

Poezję -- 
Tylko co to takiego poezja. 
Niejedna chwiejna odpowiedź 
na to pytanie już padła. 
A ja nie wiem i nie wiem i trzymam się tego 
Jak zbawiennej poręczy. 

Wislawa Szymborska (1923-2012): Niektórzy lubią poezję (Some like poetry), 1993, translated by Adam Czerniawski

 "Hasta aquí" de #Szymborska: el mejor poemario traducido del 2014 según Babelia @CulturaUNAM: image via PLenMéxico @PLenMéxico, 20 December 2014

Some --
therefore not all. 

 Early, unseen  #Szymborska poems hit the shelves: image via Wislawa Szymborska @WSzymborska, 8 October 2014

Poetry --
but what is poetry. 

Embedded image permalink

#Szymborska @WydawnictwoZnak 3 #Anniversary: image via Wislawa Szymborska @WSzymborska, 5 October 2014

But I don't know and I don't know and I hold on to this
like a saving hand-rail.

#Szymborska 3 #Anniversary: image via Wislawa Szymborska @WSzymborska, 31 January 2015

NK Mall (Stockholm): photo by Mikael Jeney, 1 September 2012

In Line (Stockholm): photo by Mikael Jeney, 29 August 2012

New Subway Station (Stockholm): photo by Mikael Jeney, 1 September 2012

Round Tower: Giovanni Battista Piranesi, 1749-1750, etching and engraving (first state of six) (The Hermitage, St. Petersburg)

Stairway in rooming house, Washington, D.C.
: photo by Carl Mydans, September 1935 (U.S. Resettlement Administration / Farm Security Administration Collection, Library of Congress)

Staircase of the Vatican Museums (Musei Vaticani), Vatican City: photo by Robert Catalano, 26 July 2005

 Staudammkrone dam at Lüner Lake, Austria: photo by Friedrich Böhringer, 2010

Look downstairs into stairwell whirl (looking over centripetal banisters, Marzahn, Berlin): photo by quapan (Karl-Ludwig G. Poggemann), 5 August 2008

The #Passion #Tower #spiral #stairwell down to the bottom #SagradaFamilia #Barcelona: image via Bla Barcelona @blaBarcelona,, 26 September 2014

Embedded image permalink
2 luglio: ricordando Wisława #Szymborska : image via SoloLibri @SoloLibri, 2 July 2014

Así despide Polonia a sus poetas. Hace 2 años, 10.000 personas despedían a #WislawaSzymborska en #Cracovioa: image via Carmen Garrido @CarmelaGarrido, 3 February 2015


erin said...

it is every bit the thing she says it is which can't be said, the thing to be grasped alongside momentum in order to stay alive. yes.

erin said...

oh, so the second part, all of the others - what do they do then? are they only swirling through the limitless dimensions of void? have they been hoisted from the staircase to fall unceasingly into the inferno? what if everyone reached out to hold onto the strange handrail of language, this particular manifestation of language? (yes, poetry, what is it?) what would the world look like then?

Mose23 said...

That your uncertainty should be your anchor, your support; in post-war Poland, this would form part of a resistance.

Beautiful post, Tom

Anonymous said...

may be is the shortest way to blow ...

billoo said...

'Does the curve contain us? It does more than that.
It offers to hold more than we were, more
than we ask-it asks of us, and asking gives.
We are enlarged.

Where do we go? Nowhere, nowhere. Live
on the stairs? No, not that...But anyway, the stairs
As though they might take us. As though they might.'

(I hope you don't mind me quoting another poet on your blog?)

TC said...

Large thanks for saying exactly what needs to be said, people, insofar as what needs to be said can ever be tamed into the sayable: though of course one could keep on down that spiral of not really knowing for the rest of time... or at least until morning... which is due to arrive some day soon, I reckon.

Sorry to be slow, in any case, one of those horrid crooked number birthdays groaned by, and no one was getting any younger around here in the first place. But yes, or maybe the proper word is maybe, if one can be certain of such a thing, I do believe it's true, uncertainty's the thing here, our hand-rail, our lifeline.

The most beautifully sophisticated yet utterly childike, rapt tribute to the pleasure of not knowing is surely that of Keats, riffing on Negative Capability.

The letter source of his remarks on the subject is inscribed near the top left column, here. The image was meant to get much larger when clicked upon. Right. However, once upon a blue moon there were certain smarties who were certain that this elaborate Uncertainty Cartoon really would get big, if you right-click on it. Catch-22. I can't right-click. Must leave that to you.

By the by, as to the photos in this post, a few backchannelers were, I guess, a bit taken back by the thought that Szymborska had ever been, like, you know, young. But hey, it happens.