Wislawa Szymborska

Just discovered the work of Wislawa Szymborska through a poem reprinted in an old edition of New Internationalist from last year. It was called Psalm and I thought it was a beautiful and humorous poem, perfectly illustrating the absurdity of man-made borders. Here are the first few lines to give an idea:

How leaky are the borders
we draw around our separate nations!
How many clouds cross those boundaries
daily, without even paying the toll!

She goes on to list all kinds of animals, stones, fog, etc., permeating the borders we’ve set up: my favourite was “the ant who, right between the guard’s left boot and his right, pays no attention to any questions of origin or destination.” Then the ending is poignant:

Funny, isn’t it, how only what’s human is truly alien? Everything else is just mixed vegetation, a few subversive moles, and the wind.

I’ve now discovered that loads of her poems are available online at Buffalo University‘s site, and have been enjoying more of them.

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