Could Have Poem By Wislawa Szymborska

Could Have – Poem by Wislawa Szymborska
It could have happened.

It had to happen.

It happened earlier. Later.

Nearer. Farther off.

It happened, but not to you.

You were saved because you were the first.

You were saved because you were the last.

Alone. With others.

On the right. The left.

Because it was raining. Because of the shade.

Because the day was sunny.

You were in luck — there was a forest.

You were in luck — there were no trees.

You were in luck — a rake, a hook, a beam, a brake,

A jamb, a turn, a quarter-inch, an instant . . .

So you’re here? Still dizzy from

another dodge, close shave, reprieve?

One hole in the net and you slipped through?

I couldn’t be more shocked or



how your heart pounds inside me.

Two Monkeys By Brueghel Poem By Wislawa Szymborska

Two Monkeys by Brueghel – Poem by Wislawa Szymborska
I keep dreaming of my graduation exam:

in a window sit two chained monkeys,

beyond the window floats the sky,

and the sea splashes.

I am taking an exam on the history of mankind:

I stammer and flounder.

One monkey, eyes fixed upon me, listens ironically,

the other seems to be dozing-

and when silence follows a question,

he prompts me

with a soft jingling of the chain.

A Thank You Note Poem By Wislawa Szymborska

A ‘Thank You’ Note – Poem by Wislawa Szymborska
There is much I owe

to those I do not love.

The relief in accepting

they are closer to another.

Joy that I am not

the wolf to their sheep.

My peace be with them

for with them I am free,

and this, love can neither give,

nor know how to take.

I don’t wait for them

from window to door.

Almost as patient

as a sun dial,

I understand

what love does not understand.

I forgive

what love would never have forgiven.

Between rendezvous and letter

no eternity passes,

only a few days or weeks.

My trips with them always turn out well.

Concerts are heard.

Cathedrals are toured.

Landscapes are distinct.

And when seven rivers and mountains

come between us,

they are rivers and mountains

well known from any map.

It is thanks to them

that I live in three dimensions,

in a non-lyrical and non-rhetorical space,

with a shifting, thus real, horizon.

They don’t even know

how much they carry in their empty hands.

‘I don’t owe them anything’,

love would have said

on this open topic.

Advertisement Poem By Wislawa Szymborska

Advertisement – Poem by Wislawa Szymborska
I’m a tranquilizer.

I’m effective at home.

I work in the office.

I can take exams

on the witness stand.

I mend broken cups with care.

All you have to do is take me,

let me melt beneath your tongue,

just gulp me

with a glass of water.

I know how to handle misfortune,

how to take bad news.

I can minimize injustice,

lighten up God’s absence,

or pick the widow’s veil that suits your face.

What are you waiting for—

have faith in my chemical compassion.

You’re still a young man/woman.

It’s not too late to learn how to unwind.

Who said

you have to take it on the chin?

Let me have your abyss.

I’ll cushion it with sleep.

You’ll thank me for giving you

four paws to fall on.

Sell me your soul.

There are no other takers.

There is no other devil anymore.

Birthday Poem By Wislawa Szymborska

Birthday – Poem by Wislawa Szymborska

So much world all at once – how it rustles and bustles!

Moraines and morays and morasses and mussels,

The flame, the flamingo, the flounder, the feather –

How to line them all up, how to put them together?

All the tickets and crickets and creepers and creeks!

The beeches and leeches alone could take weeks.

Chinchillas, gorillas, and sarsaparillas –

Thanks do much, but all this excess of kindness could kill us.

Where’s the jar for this burgeoning burdock, brooks’ babble,

Rooks’ squabble, snakes’ quiggle, abundance, and trouble?

How to plug up the gold mines and pin down the fox,

How to cope with the linx, bobolinks, strptococs!

Tale dioxide: a lightweight, but mighty in deeds:

What about octopodes, what about centipedes?

I could look into prices, but don’t have the nerve:

These are products I just can’t afford, don’t deserve.

Isn’t sunset a little too much for two eyes

That, who knows, may not open to see the sun rise?

I am just passing through, it’s a five-minute stop.

I won’t catch what is distant: what’s too close, I’ll mix up.

While trying to plumb what the void’s inner sense is,

I’m bound to pass by all these poppies and pansies.

What a loss when you think how much effort was spent

perfecting this petal, this pistil, this scent

for the one-time appearance, which is all they’re allowed,

so aloofly precise and so fragilely proud.

translated from Polish by Stanislaw Baranczak

and Clare Cavanagh


Tyle naraz ?wiata ze wszystkich stron swiata:

moreny, mureny i morza, i zorze,

i ogie?, i ogon, i orze?, i orzech –

jak ja to ustawi?, gdzie ja to po?o???

Te chaszcze i paszcze, i leszcze, i deszcze,

bodziszki, modliszki – gdzie ja to pomieszcz??

Motyle, goryle, beryle i trele –

dzi?kuj?, to chyba o wiele za wiele,

Do dzbanka jakiego tam ?opian i ?opot,

i ?ubin, i pop?och, i przepych, i k?opot?

Gdzie zabra? kolibra, gdzie ukry? to srebro,

co zrobi? na serio z tym ?ubrem i zebr??

Ju? taki dwutlenek rzecz wa?na i droga,

a tu o?miornica i jeszcze stonoga!

Domy?lam si? ceny, cho? cena z gwiazd zdarta –

dziekuj?, doprawdy nie czuj? si? warta.

Nie szkoda to dla mnie zachodu i s?o?ca?

Jak ma si? w to bawi? osoba ?yj?ca?

Na chwil? tu jestem i tylko na chwil?:

co dalsze, przeocz?, a reszt? pomyl?.

Nie zd??? wszystkiego odró?ni? od pró?ni.

Pogubi? te bratki w po?piechu podró?nym.

Ju?c ho?by najmniejszy – szalony wydatek:

fatyga ?odygi i listek, i p?atek

raz jeden w przestrzeni, od nigdy, na o?lep,

wzgardliwie dok?adny i kruchy wynio?le.

Some Like Poetry Poem By Wislawa Szymborska

Some Like Poetry – Poem by Wislawa Szymborska
Some –

thus not all. Not even the majority of all but the minority.

Not counting schools, where one has to,

and the poets themselves,

there might be two people per thousand.

Like –

but one also likes chicken soup with noodles,

one likes compliments and the color blue,

one likes an old scarf,

one likes having the upper hand,

one likes stroking a dog.

Poetry –

but what is poetry.

Many shaky answers

have been given to this question.

But I don’t know and don’t know and hold on to it

like to a sustaining railing.

Translated by Regina Grol

Nothing Twice Poem By Wislawa Szymborska

Nothing Twice – Poem by Wislawa Szymborska
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.

translated by Clare Cavanagh and Stanislaw Baranczak