Friday, August 22, 2008

Nothing twice, a poem by Wislawa Szymborska.

Wislawa Szymborska was born in Western Poland in July 1923. Szymborska has published 16 collections of poetry and her poems have been translated into English, German, Swedish, Italian, Danish, Hebrew, Hungarian, Czech, Slovakian, Serbo-Croatian, Romanian, Bulgarian, Arabic, Hebrew, Japanese, Chinese, and other languages. She was the Goethe Prize winner (1991) and Herder Prize winner (1995). She has a degree of Honorary Doctor of Letters of Poznan University (1995). In 1996, she was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature.
Szymborska's poetry focuses on the realistic in everyday life. It has a universal appeal because she speaks about life's great potential for joy. Her work also reflects an acute awareness of suffering and a strong skepticism for easy solutions.
In 1995, this poem Nothing Twice, one of my favorites, was transformed into a hit Polish rock song.

Nothing Twice by Wislawa Szymborska.

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’s no one dumber,
if you’re the planet’s biggest dunce,
you can’t repeat the class in summer:
this course is only given 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 accent.

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 stay:
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.

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