Thursday, April 30, 2015

Finding Poetry

While attempting to KonMari a bookcase earlier this week, I delightedly and unexpectedly found a folder with poems I had clipped, copied, saved, and then forgotten about for years. In it was this poem, my introduction to Wislawa Szymborska from her book View With A Grain of Sand. Here, at the end of National Poetry Month, is one of my favorite poems ever.

A Tale Begun

The world is never ready
for the birth of a child.

Our ships are not yet back from Vinland.
We still have to get over the St. Gotthard pass.
We've got to outwit the watchmen on the desert of Thor,
fight our way through the sewers to Warsaw's center,
gain access to King Harold the Butterpat
and wait until the downfall of Minister Fouché.
Only in Acapulco
can we begin anew.

We've run out of bandages,
matches, hydraulic presses, arguments, and water.
We haven't got the trucks, we haven't got the Mings' support.
This skinny horse won't be enough to bribe the sheriff.
No news so far about the Tartars' captives.
We'll need a warmer cave for winter
and someone who can speak Harari.

We don't know who to trust in Nineveh,
what conditions the prince cardinal will decree,
which names Beria's still got inside his files.
They say Charles the Hammer strikes tomorrow at dawn.
In this situation let's appease Cheops,
report ourselves of our own free will,
change faiths,
pretend to be friends with the Doge
and that we've got nothing to do with the Kwabe tribe.

Time to light the fires.
Let's send a cable to grandma in Zabierzow.
Let's untie the knots in the yurt's leather straps.

May delivery be easy,
may our child grow and be well.
Let him be happy from time to time
and leap over abysses.
Let his heart have strength to endure
and his mind be awake and reach far.

But not so far
that it sees into the future.
Spare him
that one gift,
0 heavenly powers.


  1. I have this book on my shelf. I was so thrilled when she won the Nobel as I had found her just the year before.

  2. What a powerful poem, Bonny -- that last stanza takes my breath away. I will have to check out your link and read more, such a gift for the last day of Poetry Month. Thank you.

  3. wow, this one's powerful - another poet to explore for sure. (isn't it fun seeing what everyone's sharing today!)

  4. I SO LOVE that poem, Bonny. It is one of my favorites, as well. (It's amazing what we uncover when we KonMari. . . So glad you found that folder.)

  5. I had never read this poem nor heard of the poet. (Illiterate am I.) But I love it. Thanks!


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