Wisława Szymborska (1923–2012) won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1996.

A Poem

Nothingness unseamed itself for me too.
It turned itself wrong side out.
How on earth did I end up here—
head to toe among the planets,
without a clue how I used not to be.

Dream

My fallen, my turned to dust, my earth,
assumes the shape he has in the photograph:
with a leaf’s shadow on his face, with a seashell in his hand,
he sets out toward my dream.

He wanders through darknesses extinguished since never,
through emptinesses opened to themselves forever,
through seven times seven times seven silences.

Hard Life with Memory

I’m a poor audience for my memory. She wants me to attend her voice nonstop, but I fidget, fuss, listen and don’t, step out, come back, then leave again. She wants all my time and attention. She’s got no problem when I …

Vermeer

So long as that woman from the Rijksmuseum in painted quiet and concentration keeps pouring milk day after day from the pitcher to the bowl the World hasn’t earned the world’s end.

Vermeer

So long as that woman from the Rijksmuseum in painted quiet and concentration keeps pouring milk day after day from the pitcher to the bowl the World hasn’t earned the world’s end.

Microcosmos

When we first started looking through microscopes a cold fear blew and it’s still blowing. Life hitherto had been frantic enough in all its shapes and dimensions. Which is why it created small-scale creatures, assorted tiny worms and flies, but at least the naked …

Moment

I walk on the slope of a hill gone green. Grass, little flowers in the grass, as in a children’s illustration. The misty sky’s already turning blue. A view of other hills unfolds in silence.   As if there’d never been any Cambrians, Silurians, …

The She-Pharaoh

Long ago—recently… Depends who is talking and what is being considered. For an astronomer “long ago” will mean something different than for an anthropologist. And it will be something else again for those who think back to the Second World War: for those who experienced it, it will be a …

Cat in an Empty Apartment

Die—you can’t do that to a cat. Since what can a cat do in an empty apartment? Climb the walls? Rub up against the furniture? Nothing seems different here but nothing is the same. Nothing’s been moved but there’s more space.