1996 : Wislawa Szymborska

1996 : Wislawa Szymborska

“for poetry that with ironic precision allows the historical and biological context to come to light in fragments of human reality”

Born

:

July 2, 1923

Place of birth

:

Kornik, Poland

Occupation

:

Poet, Essayist, Translator

Nationality

:

Polish

Notable award(s)

:

Nobel Prize in Literature 1996

Biography:

In 1931, his family moved to Krakow where it will be studied at the Jagiellonian University. She still resides there. Member of Polish Unified Workers’ (Communist) after the Second World War, Wislawa Szymborska remote during the 1950s in some circles attending dissidents, such as Kultura magazine, edited in Paris. She finally left the party in 1966. His first two collections are inspired communist include being more personal. The code generally regarded as his masterpiece is Wszelkie wypadek (Where), published in 1972, leading the literary establishment in his country. Each of the following codes met the same response. Apart from Poland, his work is particularly known and appreciated in Germany. It also translated into Polish many French works of the Baroque era, especially excerpts from Agrippa d’Aubigne. Although it is difficult to judge a translation without knowing the language, the French seem to conform to the thoughts and intentions of the author by clearly expressing hatred, stupidity, terrorism and torture in the description a world of horrors and suffering, in a tone that humor and irony blur. This poetry would awaken the desire to revive a faith strong, blind and without dogma. His commitment is the conscience of a reference value. In 1996, the work of Wislawa Szymborska was crowned by the award of the Nobel Prize for literature, awarded by the motivation expressed by the Swedish Academy, “for poetry that with ironic precision allows the historical and Biological emerge in fragments of human truth.”

Works:

Works in Polish:

Poezja:

  • Dlatego zyjemy – Warszawa : Czytelnik 1952 , wyd. 2 1985

  • Pytania zadawane sobie. Poezje – Krakow : Wydaw. Literackie 1954

  • Wolanie do Yeti. Wiersze – Krakow : Wydaw. Literackie 1957

  • Sol – Warszawa : PIW, 1962

  • Wiersze wybrane – Warszawa : Panst. Instytut Wydawniczy, 1964

  • Poezje wybrane – Warszawa : Ludowa Spo?dz. Wydawnicza, 1967

  • Sto pociech – Warszawa : Panst. Instytut Wydawniczy, 1967

  • Poezje – Warszawa : Panst. Instytut Wydawniczy, 1970

  • Wybor poezje – Warszawa : “Czytelnik”, 1970

  • Wszelki wypadek – Warszawa : “Czytelnik”, 1972

  • Wybor wierszy – Warszawa : Panst. Instytut Wydawniczy, 1973

  • Tarsjusz i inne wiersze – Warszawa : Krajowa Agencja Wydawnicza 1976

  • Wielka liczba – Warszawa : “Czytelnik”, 1976

  • Poezje wybrane II – Warszawa : LSW, 1983

  • Ludzie na moscie – Warszawa : “Czytelnik”, 1986

  • Poezje – Krakow : Wydaw. Literackie, 1989

  • Wieczor autorski: wiersze – Warszawa : “Anagram”, 1992

  • Koniec i poczatek – Poznan : “a5”, 1993

  • Zycie na poczekaniu – Krakow : Wydaw. Literackie, 1996

  • Widok z ziarnkiem piasku : 102 wiersze – Poznan : “a5”, 1996

  • 14 wierszy – Suprasl : Stowarzyszenie “Uroczysko”, 1998

  • Poczta literacka czyli Jak zostac (lub nie zostac) pisarzem – Krakow : Wydaw. Literackie, 2000

  • Wiersze wybrane – Krakow : “a5”, 2001

  • Chwila – Krakow : “Znak”, 2002

  • Rymowanki dla duzych dzieci : z wyklejankami Autorki – Krakow : “a5”, 2003

  • Wiersze – Olszanica : “Bosz”, [2003]

  • Wiersze wybrane – Wyd. nowe rozsz – Krakow : “a5”, 2004

  • Dwukropek – Krakow : a5, 2005

  • Milosc szczesliwa i inne wiersze – Krakow : a5, 2007

Recenzje:

  • Lektury nadobowi±zkowe – Krakow : Wydawnictwo Literackie 1973, 1981, 1992

  • Nowe lektury nadobowi±zkowe : 1997-2002 – Krakow : Wydaw. Literackie, cop. 2002

Translations into English:

  • Sounds, Feelings, Thoughts: Seventy Poems. Transl. and introd. by Magnus J. Krynski and Robert A. Maguire – Princeton, N.J : Princeton University Press, 1981

  • People on a Bridge : Poems. Introduced and translated by Adam Czerniawski – London : Forest Books, 1990

  • View with a Grain of Sand: Selected Poems. Translated from the Polish by Stanis?aw Baranczak and Clare Cavanagh – New York : Harcourt, Brace, 1995

  • Nothing Twice : Selected Poem. Selected and translated by Stanislaw Baranczak and Clare Cavanagh – Krakow : Wyd. Literackie, 1997

  • Poems, New and Collected, 1957-1997. Translated from the Polish by Stanis?aw Baranczak and Clare Cavanagh – New York : Harcourt, Brace, 1998

  • Nic darowane = Nothing’s a Gift. T?. Stanis?aw Baranczak et al. ; wybor tekstow Mosze Chaim Porajer – Warszawa : “Shalom”, 1999

  • Miracle Fair : Selected Poems of Wislawa Szymborska. Translated by Joanna Trzeciak – New York : Norton, 2001

  • Nonrequired Reading : Prose Pieces. Translated from the Polish by Clare Cavanagh – New York : Harcourt, 2002

  • Chwila = Moment. Przek?. Clare Cavanagh, Stanis?aw Baranczak – Krakow : “Znak”, 2003 – Polish original with English translation

  • Monologue of a Dog : New Poems / translated from the Polish by Clare Cavanagh and Stanislaw Baranczak – Orlando : Harcourt, 2005

  • Selections from her poetry appear in the following collections

  • Polish Writing Today. Ed. by C. Wieniewska – Penguin 1967

  • The Burning Forest. Modern Polish poetry. Ed. and transl. by Adam Czerniawski – Bloodaxe Books 1988

  • Ariadne’s Thread: Polish Women Poets. Ed. and transl. by Susan Bassnett and Piotr Kuhiwczak. 1988

Literature:

  • E. Balcerzan, Kregi wtajemniczenia – Krakow : Wydawnictwo Literackie 1982

  • Baranowska, Malgorzata, Wislawa Szymborska : Nobel ’96 for literature. Translated by Maria Chmielewska-Szlajfer, Chester Kisiel – Warszawa : Interpress, 1996

  • J. Kwiatkowski, Swiat wsrod nie-swiatow. In: Jerzy Kwiatkowski, Remont pegazow – Warszawa : “Czytelnik”, 1969

  • Legezynska, Anna, Wislawa Szymborska – Poznan : Rebis, 1996

  • Ligeza, Wojciech, O poezji Wislawy Szymborskiej : swiat w stanie korekty – Krakow : Wydawnictwo Literackie, 2001

  • Lutvogt, Dorte, Untersuchungen zur Poetik der Wislawa Szymborska – Wiesbaden : Harrassowitz, 1998

  • The Mature Laurel. Essays on modern Polish poetry. Ed. by Adam Czerniawski – Seren Books 1991

  • R. Matuszewski, Zbliska. Szkice literackie – Krakow : Wydawnictwo Literackie 1981

  • S. Melkowski, Rowiesnicy i bracia starsi – Warszawa : “Czytelnik”, 1980

  • Milosz, Czeslaw, Wislawa Szymborska and the Grand Inquisitor. Literary Imagination: The Review of the Association of Literary Scholars and Critics, 6:3 (2004 Fall)

  • Sandauer, Pogodzona z historia. In: Poeci czterech pokolen – Krakow : Wydawnictwo Literackie 1977

  • Wegrzyniakowa, Anna, Nie ma rozpusty wiekszej niz myslenie : o poezji Wislawy Szymborskiej – Katowice : Tow. Zachety Kultury, 1996

  • Wislawa Szymborska – a Stockholm Conference May 23-24, 2003 / Editors: Leonard Neuger & Rikard Wennerholm – Stockholm : Kungl. Vitterhets historie och antikvitets akademien, 2006

Awards:

954: The City of Cracow Prize for Literature.

1963: The Polish Ministry of Culture Prize.

1991: The Goethe Prize.

1995: The Herder Prize.

1995: Honorary Doctor of the Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznan.

1996: The Polish PEN Club prize.

1996: Nobel Prize for Literature.

Poetry:

Utopia

Island where all becomes clear.

Solid ground beneath your feet.

The only roads are those that offer access.

Bushes bend beneath the weight of proofs.

The Tree of Valid Supposition grows here

with branches disentangled since time immemorial.

The Tree of Understanding, dazzlingly straight and simple,

sprouts by the spring called Now I Get It.

The thicker the woods, the vaster the vista:

the Valley of Obviously.

If any doubts arise, the wind dispels them instantly.

Echoes stir unsummoned

and eagerly explain all the secrets of the worlds.

On the right a cave where Meaning lies.

On the left the Lake of Deep Conviction.

Truth breaks from the bottom and bobs to the surface.

Unshakable Confidence towers over the valley.

Its peak offers an excellent view of the Essence of Things.

For all its charms, the island is uninhabited,

and the faint footprints scattered on its beaches

turn without exception to the sea.

As if all you can do here is leave

and plunge, never to return, into the depths.

Into unfathomable life.

On Death, without Exaggeration

It can’t take a joke,

find a star, make a bridge.

It knows nothing about weaving, mining, farming,

building ships, or baking cakes.

In our planning for tomorrow,

it has the final word,

which is always beside the point.

It can’t even get the things done

that are part of its trade:

dig a grave,

make a coffin,

clean up after itself.

Preoccupied with killing,

it does the job awkwardly,

without system or skill.

As though each of us were its first kill.

Oh, it has its triumphs,

but look at its countless defeats,

missed blows,

and repeat attempts!

Sometimes it isn’t strong enough

to swat a fly from the air.

Many are the caterpillars

that have outcrawled it.

All those bulbs, pods,

tentacles, fins, tracheae,

nuptial plumage, and winter fur

show that it has fallen behind

with its halfhearted work.

Ill will won’t help

and even our lending a hand with wars and coups d’etat

is so far not enough.

Hearts beat inside eggs.

Babies’ skeletons grow.

Seeds, hard at work, sprout their first tiny pair of leaves

and sometimes even tall trees fall away.

Whoever claims that it’s omnipotent

is himself living proof

that it’s not.

There’s no life

that couldn’t be immortal

if only for a moment.

Death

always arrives by that very moment too late.

In vain it tugs at the knob

of the invisible door.

As far as you’ve come

can’t be undone.

The Three Oddest Words

When I pronounce the word Future,

the first syllable already belongs to the past.

When I pronounce the word Silence,

I destroy it.

When I pronounce the word Nothing,

I make something no non-being can hold.

Possibilities

I prefer movies.

I prefer cats.

I prefer the oaks along the Warta.

I prefer Dickens to Dostoyevsky.

I prefer myself liking people

to myself loving mankind.

I prefer keeping a needle and thread on hand, just in case.

I prefer the color green.

I prefer not to maintain

that reason is to blame for everything.

I prefer exceptions.

I prefer to leave early.

I prefer talking to doctors about something else.

I prefer the old fine-lined illustrations.

I prefer the absurdity of writing poems

to the absurdity of not writing poems.

I prefer, where love’s concerned, nonspecific anniversaries

that can be celebrated every day.

I prefer moralists

who promise me nothing.

I prefer cunning kindness to the over-trustful kind.

I prefer the earth in civvies.

I prefer conquered to conquering countries.

I prefer having some reservations.

I prefer the hell of chaos to the hell of order.

I prefer Grimms’ fairy tales to the newspapers’ front pages.

I prefer leaves without flowers to flowers without leaves.

I prefer dogs with uncropped tails.

I prefer light eyes, since mine are dark.

I prefer desk drawers.

I prefer many things that I haven’t mentioned here

to many things I’ve also left unsaid.

I prefer zeroes on the loose

to those lined up behind a cipher.

I prefer the time of insects to the time of stars.

I prefer to knock on wood.

I prefer not to ask how much longer and when.

I prefer keeping in mind even the possibility

that existence has its own reason for being.

The Joy of Writing

Why does this written doe bound through these written woods?

For a drink of written water from a spring

whose surface will xerox her soft muzzle?

Why does she lift her head; does she hear something?

Perched on four slim legs borrowed from the truth,

she pricks up her ears beneath my fingertips.

Silence – this word also rustles across the page

and parts the boughs

that have sprouted from the word “woods.”

Lying in wait, set to pounce on the blank page,

are letters up to no good,

clutches of clauses so subordinate

they’ll never let her get away.

Each drop of ink contains a fair supply

of hunters, equipped with squinting eyes behind their sights,

prepared to swarm the sloping pen at any moment,

surround the doe, and slowly aim their guns.

They forget that what’s here isn’t life.

Other laws, black on white, obtain.

The twinkling of an eye will take as long as I say,

and will, if I wish, divide into tiny eternities,

full of bullets stopped in mid-flight.

Not a thing will ever happen unless I say so.

Without my blessing, not a leaf will fall,

not a blade of grass will bend beneath that little hoof’s full stop.

Is there then a world

where I rule absolutely on fate?

A time I bind with chains of signs?

An existence become endless at my bidding?

The joy of writing.

The power of preserving.

Revenge of a mortal hand.

Presentation Speech:

Presentation Speech by Mrs Birgitta Trotzig, Writer, Member of the Swedish Academy.

Your Majesties, Your Royal Highness, Ladies and Gentlemen,How are we to live after the adulteration, demise, and disintegration of the great utopias? – we ask ourselves now, looking toward the year 2000. How are we to live after the great disillusionment? With what means shall we arrive at values, by what path reach an authentic conception of life that is no longer distorted?

“Aesthetics is the mother of ethics”, Brodsky says. Or: “If mankind’s negative potential expresses itself in murder, its positive potential manifests itself best in art.”

During the long period of the ideological recasting of human consciousness, which we have just left behind us, some of Polish postwar poetry emerged as a sign of hope, a sewage treatment plant for mutilated and contaminated language – thus for the life of the mind and the perception of life as well. In the mere existence of poetic language, in the patient word-work of distinguishing genuine from sham, false tone from true, an entire society’s purification process functioned and continues to function slowly, invisibly, underground.

In Wislawa Szymborska the Swedish Academy wants to honour a representative – and a representative of unusual and unyielding purity and strength – of a poetic outlook. Of poetry as a response to life, a way of life, of the word-work as thought and responsibility.

Wislawa Szymborska’s making of poems is the perfection of the word-object, of the exquisitely chiseled thought-image – allegro ma non troppo, as one of her poems is called. But a darkness that is never directly touched is perceptible, just as the movement of blood under the skin. For Szymborska, as for many other contemporary Polish poets, the starting point is the experience of a catastrophe, the ground caving in beneath her, the complete collapse of a faith. In its place human conditions break in with their inaccessibly shimmering agitation, their dailiness and pettiness, their tears and their jests, their tenderness. These conditions demand their particular language, a language that makes things relative, a language that methodically starts from scratch. The path of language is through negation – the prerequisite for being able to build anew is to build from nothing. From that point a game of role-playing begins, the wonderful dramaturgy of the world:

Life (I say) I’ve no ideawhat I could compare you to.

A devotion to the mystery of surface begins here – perhaps paradoxically, perhaps the necessary life-sustaining paradox – and becomes one of the many languages of changing roles, one of the many capricious harlequin languages of transformation and identification.

In Szymborska surface is depth, the path of negation has the effect of a quiet but tremendous explosion of being. “My identifying features / are rapture and despair”. The farther in one travels among the clear mirrors of her language pictures – crystalline clarity that in some way exists to lead one to a final enigma – the more one feels the world’s obtrusive unambiguousness being transformed. A shimmer of wonder and of particulars hovers over the world’s motionless base of rock, to whom she gives voice:

“I don’t have a door”, says the stone.

I would sum up Wislawa Szymborska’s undertaking as a deeply transformative word-work with the state of the world. One that is best summarized in her own words in the poem Discovery:

I believe in the refusal to take part.I believe in the ruined career.I believe in the wasted years of work.I believe in the secret taken to the grave.These words soar for me beyond all ruleswithout seeking support from actual examples.My faith is strong, blind, and without foundation.

Dear Wislawa Szymborska,I am happy to convey to you, on behalf of The Swedish Academy, our warmest congratulations on the Nobel Prize in Literature for 1996 and to invite you to receive the prize from the hands of His Majesty the King.

Nobel Lecture:

December 7, 1996

The Poet and the World

They say the first sentence in any speech is always the hardest. Well, that one’s behind me, anyway. But I have a feeling that the sentences to come – the third, the sixth, the tenth, and so on, up to the final line – will be just as hard, since I’m supposed to talk about poetry. I’ve said very little on the subject, next to nothing, in fact. And whenever I have said anything, I’ve always had the sneaking suspicion that I’m not very good at it. This is why my lecture will be rather short. All imperfection is easier to tolerate if served up in small doses.

Contemporary poets are skeptical and suspicious even, or perhaps especially, about themselves. They publicly confess to being poets only reluctantly, as if they were a little ashamed of it. But in our clamorous times it’s much easier to acknowledge your faults, at least if they’re attractively packaged, than to recognize your own merits, since these are hidden deeper and you never quite believe in them yourself … When filling in questionnaires or chatting with strangers, that is, when they can’t avoid revealing their profession, poets prefer to use the general term “writer” or replace “poet” with the name of whatever job they do in addition to writing. Bureaucrats and bus passengers respond with a touch of incredulity and alarm when they find out that they’re dealing with a poet. I suppose philosophers may meet with a similar reaction. Still, they’re in a better position, since as often as not they can embellish their calling with some kind of scholarly title. Professor of philosophy – now that sounds much more respectable.

But there are no professors of poetry. This would mean, after all, that poetry is an occupation requiring specialized study, regular examinations, theoretical articles with bibliographies and footnotes attached, and finally, ceremoniously conferred diplomas. And this would mean, in turn, that it’s not enough to cover pages with even the most exquisite poems in order to become a poet. The crucial element is some slip of paper bearing an official stamp. Let us recall that the pride of Russian poetry, the future Nobel Laureate Joseph Brodsky was once sentenced to internal exile precisely on such grounds. They called him “a parasite,” because he lacked official certification granting him the right to be a poet …

Several years ago, I had the honor and pleasure of meeting Brodsky in person. And I noticed that, of all the poets I’ve known, he was the only one who enjoyed calling himself a poet. He pronounced the word without inhibitions.

Just the opposite – he spoke it with defiant freedom. It seems to me that this must have been because he recalled the brutal humiliations he had experienced in his youth.

In more fortunate countries, where human dignity isn’t assaulted so readily, poets yearn, of course, to be published, read, and understood, but they do little, if anything, to set themselves above the common herd and the daily grind. And yet it wasn’t so long ago, in this century’s first decades, that poets strove to shock us with their extravagant dress and eccentric behavior. But all this was merely for the sake of public display. The moment always came when poets had to close the doors behind them, strip off their mantles, fripperies, and other poetic paraphernalia, and confront – silently, patiently awaiting their own selves – the still white sheet of paper. For this is finally what really counts.

It’s not accidental that film biographies of great scientists and artists are produced in droves. The more ambitious directors seek to reproduce convincingly the creative process that led to important scientific discoveries or the emergence of a masterpiece. And one can depict certain kinds of scientific labor with some success. Laboratories, sundry instruments, elaborate machinery brought to life: such scenes may hold the audience’s interest for a while. And those moments of uncertainty – will the experiment, conducted for the thousandth time with some tiny modification, finally yield the desired result? – can be quite dramatic. Films about painters can be spectacular, as they go about recreating every stage of a famous painting’s evolution, from the first penciled line to the final brush-stroke. Music swells in films about composers: the first bars of the melody that rings in the musician’s ears finally emerge as a mature work in symphonic form. Of course this is all quite naive and doesn’t explain the strange mental state popularly known as inspiration, but at least there’s something to look at and listen to.

But poets are the worst. Their work is hopelessly unphotogenic. Someone sits at a table or lies on a sofa while staring motionless at a wall or ceiling. Once in a while this person writes down seven lines only to cross out one of them fifteen minutes later, and then another hour passes, during which nothing happens … Who could stand to watch this kind of thing?

I’ve mentioned inspiration. Contemporary poets answer evasively when asked what it is, and if it actually exists. It’s not that they’ve never known the blessing of this inner impulse. It’s just not easy to explain something to someone else that you don’t understand yourself.

When I’m asked about this on occasion, I hedge the question too. But my answer is this: inspiration is not the exclusive privilege of poets or artists generally. There is, has been, and will always be a certain group of people whom inspiration visits. It’s made up of all those who’ve consciously chosen their calling and do their job with love and imagination. It may include doctors, teachers, gardeners – and I could list a hundred more professions. Their work becomes one continuous adventure as long as they manage to keep discovering new challenges in it. Difficulties and setbacks never quell their curiosity. A swarm of new questions emerges from every problem they solve. Whatever inspiration is, it’s born from a continuous “I don’t know.”

There aren’t many such people. Most of the earth’s inhabitants work to get by. They work because they have to. They didn’t pick this or that kind of job out of passion; the circumstances of their lives did the choosing for them. Loveless work, boring work, work valued only because others haven’t got even that much, however loveless and boring – this is one of the harshest human miseries. And there’s no sign that coming centuries will produce any changes for the better as far as this goes.

And so, though I may deny poets their monopoly on inspiration, I still place them in a select group of Fortune’s darlings.

At this point, though, certain doubts may arise in my audience. All sorts of torturers, dictators, fanatics, and demagogues struggling for power by way of a few loudly shouted slogans also enjoy their jobs, and they too perform their duties with inventive fervor. Well, yes, but they “know.” They know, and whatever they know is enough for them once and for all. They don’t want to find out about anything else, since that might diminish their arguments’ force. And any knowledge that doesn’t lead to new questions quickly dies out: it fails to maintain the temperature required for sustaining life. In the most extreme cases, cases well known from ancient and modern history, it even poses a lethal threat to society.

This is why I value that little phrase “I don’t know” so highly. It’s small, but it flies on mighty wings. It expands our lives to include the spaces within us as well as those outer expanses in which our tiny Earth hangs suspended. If Isaac Newton had never said to himself “I don’t know,” the apples in his little orchard might have dropped to the ground like hailstones and at best he would have stooped to pick them up and gobble them with gusto. Had my compatriot Marie Sklodowska-Curie never said to herself “I don’t know”, she probably would have wound up teaching chemistry at some private high school for young ladies from good families, and would have ended her days performing this otherwise perfectly respectable job. But she kept on saying “I don’t know,” and these words led her, not just once but twice, to Stockholm, where restless, questing spirits are occasionally rewarded with the Nobel Prize.

Poets, if they’re genuine, must also keep repeating “I don’t know.” Each poem marks an effort to answer this statement, but as soon as the final period hits the page, the poet begins to hesitate, starts to realize that this particular answer was pure makeshift that’s absolutely inadequate to boot. So the poets keep on trying, and sooner or later the consecutive results of their self-dissatisfaction are clipped together with a giant paperclip by literary historians and called their “oeuvre” …

I sometimes dream of situations that can’t possibly come true. I audaciously imagine, for example, that I get a chance to chat with the Ecclesiastes, the author of that moving lament on the vanity of all human endeavors. I would bow very deeply before him, because he is, after all, one of the greatest poets, for me at least. That done, I would grab his hand. “‘There’s nothing new under the sun’: that’s what you wrote, Ecclesiastes. But you yourself were born new under the sun. And the poem you created is also new under the sun, since no one wrote it down before you. And all your readers are also new under the sun, since those who lived before you couldn’t read your poem. And that cypress that you’re sitting under hasn’t been growing since the dawn of time. It came into being by way of another cypress similar to yours, but not exactly the same. And Ecclesiastes, I’d also like to ask you what new thing under the sun you’re planning to work on now? A further supplement to the thoughts you’ve already expressed? Or maybe you’re tempted to contradict some of them now? In your earlier work you mentioned joy – so what if it’s fleeting? So maybe your new-under-the-sun poem will be about joy? Have you taken notes yet, do you have drafts? I doubt you’ll say, ‘I’ve written everything down, I’ve got nothing left to add.’ There’s no poet in the world who can say this, least of all a great poet like yourself.”

The world – whatever we might think when terrified by its vastness and our own impotence, or embittered by its indifference to individual suffering, of people, animals, and perhaps even plants, for why are we so sure that plants feel no pain; whatever we might think of its expanses pierced by the rays of stars surrounded by planets we’ve just begun to discover, planets already dead? still dead? we just don’t know; whatever we might think of this measureless theater to which we’ve got reserved tickets, but tickets whose lifespan is laughably short, bounded as it is by two arbitrary dates; whatever else we might think of this world – it is astonishing.

But “astonishing” is an epithet concealing a logical trap. We’re astonished, after all, by things that deviate from some well-known and universally acknowledged norm, from an obviousness we’ve grown accustomed to. Now the point is, there is no such obvious world. Our astonishment exists per se and isn’t based on comparison with something else.

Granted, in daily speech, where we don’t stop to consider every word, we all use phrases like “the ordinary world,” “ordinary life,” “the ordinary course of events”… But in the language of poetry, where every word is weighed, nothing is usual or normal. Not a single stone and not a single cloud above it. Not a single day and not a single night after it. And above all, not a single existence, not anyone’s existence in this world.

It looks like poets will always have their work cut out for them.

Book(s):

25 poesie (ita libro)

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