A Great Man's House
It was written in marble in golden letters:
here a great man lived and worked and died.
He laid the gravel for these paths personally.
This bench — do not touch — he chiseled by himself
out of stone.
And — careful, three steps — we're going inside.
He made it into the world at just the right time.
Everything that had to pass, passed in this house.
Not in a high rise,
not in square feet, furnished yet empty,
amidst unknown neighbors,
on some fifteenth floor,
where it's hard to drag school field trips.
In this room he pondered,
in this chamber he slept,
and over here he entertained guests.
Portraits, an armchair, a desk, a pipe, a globe, a flute,
a worn-out rug, a sun room.
From here he exchanged nods with his tailor and
who custom made for him.
This is not the same as photographs in boxes,
dried out pens in a plastic cup,
a store-bought wardrobe in a store-bought closet,
a window, from which you can see clouds better
That's not relevant here.
He still confided in his letters,
without thinking they would be opened on their
He still kept a detailed and honest diary,
without the fear that he would lose it during a
The passing of a comet worried him most.
The destruction of the world was only in the hands
He still managed not to die in the hospital,
behind a white screen, who knows which one.
There was still someone with him who remembered
his muttered words.
He partook of life
as if it were reusable:
he sent his books to be bound;
he wouldn't cross out the last names of the dead from
his address book.
And the trees he had planted in the garden behind
grew for him as Juglans regia
and Quercus rubra and Ulmus and Larix
and Fraxinus excelsior.
Translated, from the Polish, by Joanna Trzeciak
Wislawa Szymborska's Other Poems
Read this poem in other languages
This poem has not been translated into any other language yet.
Comments about this poem (A Great Man's House by Wislawa Szymborska )
- Paralysis Agitans, Steve Lang
- Think Me On That Train, Susan Lacovara
- Lovers, Tex T Sarnie
- The Big Picture, Tex T Sarnie
- You fill me, hasmukh amathalal
- I stashed my life, Aftab Alam
- the right self, RIC S. BASTASA
- Am I different?, gajanan mishra
- Drops on Earth, binod bastola
- On Her Bed She Lay, White Lily
Poem of the Day
- 04 Tongues Made Of Glass, Shaun Shane
- 1914 V: The Soldier, Rupert Brooke
- The Road Not Taken, Robert Frost
- Do Not Stand At My Grave And Weep, Mary Elizabeth Frye
- If, Rudyard Kipling
- If You Forget Me, Pablo Neruda
- Phenomenal Woman, Maya Angelou
- Sonnet XVII, Pablo Neruda
- I Do Not Love You Except Because I Love .., Pablo Neruda
- Still I Rise, Maya Angelou
(12 July 1904 – 23 September 1973)
(4 April 1928 - 28 May 2014)
James Whitcomb Riley
(7 October 1849 - 22 July 1916)
(16 August 1920 – 9 March 1994)
- Heather Burns
(7 May 1861 – 7 August 1941)
(March 26, 1874 – January 29, 1963)
(November 1, 1871 – June 5, 1900)