This from”Monologue of a Dog,” by Wislawa Szymborska. Ms. Szymborska won the Nobel Prize in Literature at the age of seventy-three, a relatively unknown poet in her native Poland. In his introduction, Billy Collins writes, “The typical Szymborska poem, if such a thing exists, is a free-verse meditation couched in colloquial language. It begins with a stray fact or a mundane observation, then ascends to a heightened level of speculation. The shifts from zone to zone are engineered so smoothly that they often take place beyond the conscious awareness of the reader. She herself has said that attempts to estimate poetry or place a value on it often elude explanation: “ . . the fact that with one writer the words fall together into units that are alive and enduring and with another they do not is decided in a realm that’s not easily comprehensible to anyone. I suspect that this is a realm upon which the vicissitudes of life and the intensity of experience no longer have any influence.” Her comment points to the insufficiency of literary criticism and espouses a preternatural dimension for art.”
Yet another reason to read poetry; it speaks to and nurtures the preternatural – even when we think it doesn’t.
A Little Girl Tugs At The Tablecloth
She’s been in this world for over a year,
and in this world not everything’s been examined
and taken in hand.
The subject of today’s investigation
is things that don’t move by themselves.
They need to be helped along,
taken from their place and relocated.
They don’t all want to go, e.g., the bookshelf,
the cupboard, the unyielding walls, the table.
But the tablecloth on the stubborn table
-- well-seized by its hems –
manifests a willingness to travel.
And the glasses, plates, creamer, spoons, bowls,
are fairly shaking with desire.
what form of motion they will take,
once they’re trembling on the brink:
will they roam across the ceiling?
fly around the lamp?
hop onto the windowsill and from there to a tree?
Mr. Newton still has no say in this.
Let him look down from the heavens and wave his hands.
This experiment must be completed.
And it will.