Today’s entry to the READING ROOM is presented by Debi Swim. Thanks to my heritage, I am somewhat familiar with Szymborska’s work. Here is Debi’s summation:
Wislawa Szymborska, from Krakow Poland, received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1996.
Three of my favorite poets are Wislawa Szymborska, Langston Hughes and Wendell Berry. You are probably familiar with the last two but maybe not the first. I was ‘introduced’ to her by Barbara Young (author of Heirloom Language) on her prompt blog Quickly.
“The voice in Szymborska’s poems is natural, conversational in places, but even the seemingly simpler poems cast shadows that vie for your attention.” (Quote from Arms, Legs, and Astounded Head: Wislawa Szymborska’s Here | Outside of a Cat (wordpress.com))
Hatred, by Wislawa Szymborska
See how efficient it still is,
how it keeps itself in shape—
our century’s hatred.
How easily it vaults the tallest obstacles.
How rapidly it pounces, tracks us down.
It’s not like other feelings.
At once both older and younger.
It gives birth itself to the reasons
that give it life.
When it sleeps, it’s never eternal rest.
And sleeplessness won’t sap its strength; it feeds it.
One religion or another –
whatever gets it ready, in position.
One fatherland or another –
whatever helps it get a running start.
Justice also works well at the outset
until hate gets its own momentum going.
Its face twisted in a grimace
of erotic ecstasy…
Hatred is a master of contrast-
between explosions and dead quiet,
red blood and white snow.
Above all, it never tires
of its leitmotif – the impeccable executioner
towering over its soiled victim.
It’s always ready for new challenges.
If it has to wait awhile, it will.
They say it’s blind. Blind?
It has a sniper’s keen sight
and gazes unflinchingly at the future
as only it can.