Thursday, February 11, 2021

Poetry on Thursday


One of my goals or the things I wanted to accomplish in 2021 was to write a note to each of my family members. I've started this and it's taking more time and thought than I might have predicted. Even when I'm not actively writing, I still spend a lot of time thinking about these notes. That's why I chose this poem for today. It's from one of my favorite poets, but despite thinking about it quite a bit, I'm still not entirely clear what it means. I hope it provides food for thought for you. 

Thank-You Note
by Wislawa Szymborska

I owe so much
to those I don’t love.

The relief as I agree
that someone else needs them more.

The happiness that I’m not
the wolf to their sheep.

The peace I feel with them,
the freedom –
love can neither give
nor take that.

I don’t wait for them,
as in window-to-door-and-back.
Almost as patient
as a sundial,
I understand
what love can’t,
and forgive
as love never would.

From a rendezvous to a letter
is just a few days or weeks,
not an eternity.

Trips with them always go smoothly,
concerts are heard,
cathedrals visited,
scenery is seen.

And when seven hills and rivers
come between us,
the hills and rivers
can be found on any map.

They deserve the credit
if I live in three dimensions,
in nonlyrical and nonrhetorical space
with a genuine, shifting horizon.

They themselves don’t realize
how much they hold in their empty hands.

“I don’t owe them a thing,”
would be love’s answer
to this open question.

Wisława Szymborska, from A Large Number, 1976, as published in Map: Collected and Last Poems, paperback ed 2016, Mariner Books.

Translated by Stanislaw Baranczak and Clare Cavanagh

I wish you mindfulness, peace, good health, some answers to your own open question, and the power of poetry as this week winds down.


  1. Thanks for this one, Bonny. I think I need to read it several times to fully appreciate it.

  2. Beautiful words... wow. Powerful. Tender. Unexpected. Thank you so much for sharing this today!

  3. I think this poem will require lots of thought for me. I'm not sure I understand it. It will give me something to think about today as I move through the day. Thanks for sharing, Bonny.

  4. I'll admit to getting a little lost with this one.

  5. I always love a good Wisława Szymborska poem! Always something interesting to chew on for awhile . . .

  6. hugs and blessings to you! I loved the poem and it could apply to me :)

  7. This one will take me a while! Have a wonderful weekend Bonny! xo

  8. sigh. Bonny thank you.
    "I understand
    what love can’t,
    and forgive
    as love never would."


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