Noelia (noelia_g) wrote,

Seen all over my flist, lastly in silent_chris's lj.

When you see this, post a poem you like on your LJ.

I present you, translated mostly by Stanisław Barańczak, but also others, poems by Polish Noble Prize Winner, Wisława Szymborska. Because you should read them. Because I love them.

It's me, Cassandra.
And this is my city covered with ashes.
And this is my rod, and the ribbons of a prophet.
And this is my head full of doubts.

It's true, I won.
What I said would happen
hit the sky with a fiery glow.
Only prophets
whom no one believes
witness such things,
only those who do their job badly.
And everything happens so quickly,
as if they had not spoken.

Now I remember clearly
how people, seeing me, broke off mid-sentence.
Their laughter stopped.
They moved away from each other.
Children ran towards their mothers.
I didn't even know their vague names.
And that song about a green leaf--
nobody ever finished singing it in front of me.

I loved them.
But I loved them from a height.
from above life.
from the future.
Where it's always empty
and where it's easy to see death.
I am sorry my voice was harsh.
Look at yourselves from a distance, I cried,
look at yourselves from a distance of stars.
They heard and lowered their eyes.

They just lived.
Not very brave.
In departing bodies, from the moment of birth.
But they had this watery hope,
a blame feeding on its own glittering.
They knew what a moment was.
How I wish for one moment, any,
I was proved right.
So what. Nothing comes of it.
And this is my robe scorched by flames.
And these are the odds and ends of a prophet.
And this is my distorted face.
The face that did not know its own beauty.

The hour between night and day.
The hour between toss and turn.
The hour of thirty-year-olds.

The hour swept clean for rooster's crowing.
The hour when the earth takes back its warm embrace.
The hour of cool drafts from extinguished stars.
The hour of do-we-vanish-too-without-a-trace.

Empty hour.
Hollow. Vain.
Rock bottom of all the other hours.

No one feels fine at four a.m.
If ants feel fine at four a.m.,
we're happy for the ants. And let five a.m. come
if we've got to go on living.

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.

"What time is it?" "Oh yes, I'm so happy;
all I need is a little bell round my neck
to jingle over you while you're asleep."
"Didn't you hear the storm? The north wind shook
the walls; the tower gate, like a lion's maw,
yawned on its creaking hinges." "How could you
forget? I had on that plain gray dress
that fastens on the shoulder." "At that moment,
myriad exploswns shook the sky." "How could I
come in? You weren't alone, affer all." "I glimpsed
colors older than sight itself" "Too bad
you can't promise me." "You're right, it must have been
a dream." "Why all these lies; why do you call me
by her name; do you still love her?" "Of course,
I want you to stay with me." "I can't
complain. I should have guessed myself."
"Do you still think about him?" "But I'm not crying."
"That's all there is?" "No one but you."
"At least you're honest." "Don't worry,
I'm leaving town." "Don't worry,
I'm going." "You have such beautiful hands."
"That's ancient historv; the blade went through,
but missed the bone." "Never mind, darling,
never mind." "I don't know
what time it is, and I don't care."

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 exactly 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 stav:
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.

There are few things I consider better in Polish and Szymborska's poetry is definitely one of them. But the translation is quite good and definitely the next best thing, so... :)
Tags: meme, poems

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