Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Clouds, a poem by Wisława Szymborska.

Post 654 - Sad news today about Wisława Szymborska (2 July 1923 – 1 February 2012). Szymborska was a Polish poet, essayist, translator and recipient of the 1996 Nobel Prize in Literature. Born in Prowent in Western Poland, she lived in Kraków from 1931 until the end of her life today when she died peacefully in her sleep.
Some of her prizes and awards include:
• 1954: The City of Kraków 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 (Poznań)
• 1996: The Polish PEN Club prize
• 1996: Nobel Prize for Literature

Clouds by Wisława Szymborska.

I’d have to be really quick
to describe clouds -
a split second’s enough
for them to start being something else.

Their trademark:
they don’t repeat a single
shape, shade, pose, arrangement.

Unburdened by memory of any kind,
they float easily over the facts.

What on earth could they bear witness to?
They scatter whenever something happens.

Compared to clouds,
life rests on solid ground,
practically permanent, almost eternal.

Next to clouds
even a stone seems like a brother,
someone you can trust,
while they’re just distant, flighty cousins.

Let people exist if they want,
and then die, one after another:
clouds simply don't care
what they're up to
down there.

And so their haughty fleet
cruises smoothly over your whole life
and mine, still incomplete.

They aren't obliged to vanish when we're gone.
They don't have to be seen while sailing on.

Translated by Stanislaw Baranczak and Clare Cavanagh.

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