World's Fair

“A Note” (poem by W. Szymborska)

I just picked up Jonah’s book, Proust was a Neuroscientist, which so far has me thinking differently about the other things I read. And with Whitman as the first chapter, I got to thumbing through some poetry. Plus, it’s a nice season for poetry.

Moving on, inelegant as this transition may be….

We’ve posted a poem by the Polish poet Wislawa Szymborksa before (“Discover“). Here is another, called “A Note.” I liked it.

Life is the only way
to get covered in leaves,
catch your breath on sand,
rise on wings;

to be a dog,
or stroke its warm fur;

to tell pain
from everything it’s not;

to squeeze inside events,
dawdle in views,
to seek the least of all possible mistakes;

An extraordinary chance
to remember for a moment
a conversation held with the lamp switched off;

and if only once
to stumble on a stone,
end up soaked in one downpour or another,

mislay your keys in the grass;
and to follow a spark on the wind with your eyes;

and to keep on not knowing
something important

(translated by Stanislaw Baranczak and Clare Cavanaugh)

_________________

(If you’re asking, I’ll admit I’m a big fan of this part: “An extraordinary chance / to remember for a moment / a conversation held with the lamp switched off”.)

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