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HERE (Poetry)

By Wislawa Szymborska
Translated from the Polish by Stanislaw Baranczak and Clare Cavanagh
New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Brace, 2010
85 pages

Comments by Bob Corbett
February 2013

This is a short little book and a bit more mixed that the first volume of Wislawa Szymborsaka which I read. Nonetheless, there are enough simply startlingly awesome poems in the volume to more than justify owning and reading it. As in the first volume of her works that I read, she continues to capture the essence of some of the most obscure topics for poetry that I have ever read. I would say she even elevates poetry to a level I had not yet experienced.

“Thoughts That Visit Me On Busy Streets” is a clever poem about nature getting tired of constantly creating new faces, so nature has actually been repeating faces over time. Thoughtful, cute, clever and fun.

I enjoy the cleverness in her frequent writing about writing. One challenging poem is about an inspiration that comes to her to write poems about writing poems and eventually the ideas and the inspiration leave, but she’s left with the poem that told that very story. Quite clever.

“Teenager” is a deeply touching poem as she is in conversation with herself when she was only a teen.

“In Fact Every Poem” may well be called a “moment” captured.

“One phrase is enough
in the present tense
the past or even the future.

It’s enough so that anything
borne on words
begins to rustle, sparkle, flutter, float,
while seeming
to stay changeless
but with shifting shadow; . . .”

This is sort of the essence of her poetry: capturing the heart of something which most people would never really think about.

There are only about 30 short poems in this collection with facing Polish and English versions. Despite the shortness of the volume, it is quite rewarding.

Bob Corbett


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