“Reciprocity” – Wislawa Szymborska

by richibi

Wislawa Szymborska won the Nobel prize
in Literature in 1996, here is one of her
poems, translated from the Polish by
Clare Cavanagh



from the New Yorker, February 3, 2014


There are catalogues of catalogues.
There are poems about poems.
There are plays about actors played by actors.
Letters due to letters.
Words used to clarify words.
Brains occupied with studying brains.
There are griefs as infectious as laughter.
Papers emerging from waste papers.
Seen glances.
Conditions conditioned by the conditional.
Large rivers with major contributions from small ones.
Forests grown over and above by forests.
Machines designed to make machines.
Dreams that wake us suddenly from dreams.
Health needed for regaining health.
Stairs leading as much up as down.
Glasses for finding glasses.
Inspiration born of expiration.
And even if only from time to time
hatred of hatred.
All in all,
ignorance of ignorance
and hands employed to wash hands.

Wislawa Szymborska