Thursday, December 20, 2012

I forgive you, Wislawa Szymborska

photo from The Art of Reading: Wislawa Szymborska

Under One Small Star
by Wislawa Szymborska


My apologies to chance for calling it necessity. 
My apologies to necessity if I’m mistaken, after all. 
Please, don’t be angry, happiness, that I take you as my due.
May my dead be patient with the way my memories fade. 
My apologies to time for all the world I overlook each second. 
My apologies to past loves for thinking that the latest is the first. 
Forgive me, distant wars, for bringing flowers home. 
Forgive me, open wounds, for pricking my finger. 
I apologize for my record of minuets to those who cry from the depths. 
I apologize to those who wait in railway stations for being asleep today at five a.m. 
Pardon me, hounded hope, for laughing from time to time. 
Pardon me, deserts, that I don’t rush to you bearing a spoonful of water. 
And you, falcon, unchanging year after year, always in the same cage, 
your gaze always fixed on the same point in space,
forgive me, even if it turns out you were stuffed. 
My apologies to the felled tree for the table’s four legs.
My apologies to great questions for small answers. 
Truth, please don’t pay me much attention. 
Dignity, please be magnanimous. 
Bear with me, O mystery of existence, as I pluck the occasional thread from your train. 
Soul, don’t take offense that I’ve only got you now and then. 
My apologies to everything that I can’t be everywhere at once. 
My apologies to everyone that I can’t be each woman and each man. 
I know I won’t be justified as long as I live, 
since I myself stand in my own way. 
Don’t bear me ill will, speech, that I borrow weighty words,
then labor heavily so that they may seem light.
 -- Wislawa Szymborska, translated by Stanislaw Branczak and Clare Cavanagh

It's always so much easier to forgive those who ask,
and those who make me laugh.

3 comments:

楊安平 said...

Hi, my name is Ann from Asia. Recently I was studying on poetry and lukily found your work of analyzing "September, the first day of school" (You wrote it in 2007)
And I am confused about that biblical reference of Joseph in that poem, what does the whole stanza three mean for?
(Though obviously you've stopped writing since 2012:P)I will be really thankful if you reply:)

Emma J said...

Hello, Ann from Asia. I haven't written any of the poems on this site. The poem above is written by Wislawa Szymborska. The poem you asked about is written by Howard Nemerov -- check there for my ideas about stanza three.

Emma J said...

Looks like comments are closed that far back. So I'll repost the poem.

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