Wislawa Szymborska

(2 July 1923 – 1 February 2012 / Prowent)

Under One Small Star


My apologies to chance for calling it necessity.
My apologies to necessity if I'm mistaken, after all.
Please, don't be angry, happiness, that I take you as my due.
May my dead be patient with the way my memories fade.
My apologies to time for all the world I overlook each second.
My apologies to past loves for thinking that the latest is the first.
Forgive me, distant wars, for bringing flowers home.
Forgive me, open wounds, for pricking my finger.
I apologize for my record of minuets to those who cry from the depths.
I apologize to those who wait in railway stations for being asleep today at five a.m.
Pardon me, hounded hope, for laughing from time to time.
Pardon me, deserts, that I don't rush to you bearing a spoonful of water.
And you, falcon, unchanging year after year, always in the same cage,
your gaze always fixed on the same point in space,
forgive me, even if it turns out you were stuffed.
My apologies to the felled tree for the table's four legs.
My apologies to great questions for small answers.
Truth, please don't pay me much attention.
Dignity, please be magnanimous.
Bear with me, O mystery of existence, as I pluck the occasional thread from your train.
Soul, don't take offense that I've only got you now and then.
My apologies to everything that I can't be everywhere at once.
My apologies to everyone that I can't be each woman and each man.
I know I won't be justified as long as I live,
since I myself stand in my own way.
Don't bear me ill will, speech, that I borrow weighty words,
then labor heavily so that they may seem light.

Submitted: Monday, January 20, 2003

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  • Gold Star - 17,987 Points Gangadharan Nair Pulingat (7/4/2014 9:10:00 AM)

    The poem under one small star is most beautiful and apologies for different events in life even for a felled tree that used to the table is wonderfully felt. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Pawe³ Brodowski (7/1/2008 7:27:00 PM)

    I'm Polish so i can read Szymborska's poems in original. And what I think about this poem (after re-reading it in Polish) it's that it is about ourselves. We all think that our matters are the most important. As the humanity thinks that solar system is the centre of the universe. Everyone lives under 'one small star' which twinkles outside his or her window. And this poem is about it - about the shame and comprehention. Every person has its own universe... (sorry for mistakes - English is not my mother language) . (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Rochelle Cashdan (5/20/2008 11:16:00 PM)

    I think Szymborska, steeped in the history of her country, knows the world hard but also knows she has to live beyond its horrors. Her way is by being a poet. The last two lines express her joy almost beyond guilt in making a poem even out of tragedy. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Raynette Eitel (2/24/2006 1:40:00 PM)

    This woman is one of my favorite contemporary poets. This poem amuses me because it is so guilt laden. And Ria, those last two lines are what we as poets so often do. We take heavythoughts, heavy words and make them light and lovely. She lashes out at her poet self for doing just that. I find a lot of irony within this poem...possibly much of her culture woven in, as well.

    Raynette (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Ria Smits (10/31/2005 3:33:00 PM)

    I have no comments at this moment, except for the fact that the poem touches my heart. I have a question: what does the two last lines of the poem mean? Can anyone explain them to me. (Report) Reply

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