Thursday, April 27, 2017

Dual Purpose

I'm joining Kym today for Poem in Your Pocket Day, a day to choose your favorite poem, carry it with you, and share it with others. Also, the Think Write Thursday topic for today is to write a post that begins with the words, "Remember the time ..." So, here is my dual purpose PiYPD/TWT post.

I remember the time I heard Wislawa Szymborska read "A Tale Begun" on NPR in 2007 and I was immediately struck. While I haven't carried this poem in my pocket, I have carried it with me in my planner for the last ten years so I could read it often.The lines at the end still bring tears to my eyes. Perhaps it will also speak to you.

A Tale Begun

The world is never ready
for the birth of a child.
Our ships are not yet back from Winnland.
We still have to get over the S. Gothard 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 Harald the Butterpat,
and wait until the downfall of Minister Fouche.
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 Minghs' 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 whom to trust in Nineveh,
what conditions the Prince-Cardinal will decree,
which names Beria has still got inside his files.
They say Karol 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 say 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.

~Wislawa Szymborska
From View With a Grain of Sand, 1993
Read other Think ... Write ... Thursday! posts here, and sign up for Carole and Kat's great idea here.


  1. That is one of my favorite poems ever! It just takes my breath away -- every single time. (My introduction to the poems of Wislawa Szymborska also came via NPR. Maybe we were listening at the same time?)

  2. What a beautiful poem. Thank you so much for sharing, Bonny! And, yes...the last lines are most especially true and so moving.

  3. Stunning! Blows my mind! I've never heard of Wislawa Szymborska or this poem. Thank you.

  4. Beautiful! Now I need to go and look for more poems by Wislawa Szymborska.

  5. That poem evokes a really great feeling and it's true, the world (and we) are never ready but thank goodness we don't let that stop us from having children.

  6. Thank-you for bringing that to me. I know very little poetry and am so grateful to be introduced to more!

  7. Wow--what a poem! Thank you for sharing it.

  8. I believe you, Kym and I may have heard about Szymborska in the same NPR program. I have only read a few of her poems, but each poem speaks volumes.

  9. beautiful poem :) I have never heard of this poet and now I have! Ah the wonderful world of the internet and all that it provides!!

  10. that's beautiful, Bonny - and the image is a perfect accompaniment.


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