Treasure Island

Wislawa Szymborska

(2 July 1923 – 1 February 2012 / Prowent)

Quotations

  • ''You survived because you were the first.
    You survived because you were the last.
    Because alone. Because the others.
    Because on the left. Because on the right.
    Because it was raining. Because it was sunny.
    Because a shadow fell.''
    Wislawa Szymborska (b. 1923), Polish poet. "Any Case," lines 6-11 (1948); tr. By Grazyna Drabik and Sharon Olds (1993). Symborska, who has always lived in Poland, wrote a great deal of protest poetry during the Communist era.
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  • ''Whether you want it or not,
    your genes have a political past,
    your skin a political tone.
    your eyes a political color.
    ...
    you walk with political steps
    on political ground.''
    Wislawa Szymborska (b. 1923), Polish poet. "Children of the Epoch," lines 6-9, 14-15, translated by Grazyna Drabik and Austin Flint. On Poland during the Communist era. I know that Symborska's first book of poetry was published in 1948, but I don't know whether this poem was in it. In any event, that book was attacked by her government and had to be withdrawn. Neither do I know the date of the translation.
  • ''History counts its skeletons in round numbers.
    A thousand and one remains a thousand,
    as though the one had never existed:
    an imaginary embryo, an empty cradle,
    ...
    emptiness running down steps toward the garden,
    nobody's place in line.''
    Wislawa Szymborska (b. 1923), Polish poet. "Hunger Camp at Jaslo," lines 6-9, 12-13, translated by Grazyna Drabik and Austin Flint. I know that Symborska's first book of poetry was published in 1948, but I don't know whether this poem was in it. In any event, that book was attacked by her government and had to be withdrawn. Neither do I know the date of the translation.

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Still

In sealed box cars travel
names across the land,
and how far they will travel so,
and will they ever get out,
don't ask, I won't say, I don't know.

The name Nathan strikes fist against wall,
the name Isaac, demented, sings,
the name Sarah calls out for water for

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