Sunday, March 04, 2012

Your Sunday Poem

By Wislawa Szymborska, from the March 8 New York Review of Books.  Translated from the Polish by Clare Cavanagh and Stanislaw Baranczak.

Hard Life With Memory

I'm a poor audience for my memory.
She wants me to attend her voice nonstop,
but I fidget, fuss,
listen and don't,
step out, come back, then leave again.

She wants all my time and attention.
She's got no problem when I sleep.
The day's a different matter, which upsets her.

She thrusts old letters, snapshots at me eagerly,
stirs up events both important and un-,
turns my eyes to overlooked views,
peoples them with my dead.

In her stories I'm always younger,
Which is nice, but why always the same story.
Every mirror holds different news for me.

She gets angry when I shrug my shoulders.
And takes revenge by hauling out old errors,
weighty, but easily forgotten.
Looks into my eyes, checks my reaction.
Then comforts me, it could be worse.

She wants me to live only for her and with her.
Ideally in a dark, locked room,
but my plans still feature today's sun,
clouds in progress, ongoing roads.

At times I get fed up with her.
I suggest a separation.  From now to eternity.
Then she smiles at me with pity,
since she knows it would be the end of me too.


Alon Perlman said...

Memory that dogs you fretfully, like a nervous old lap dog. This old gal is as deep and self knowing as the old eastern philosophers. Perhaps it doesn’t lose anything in translation. Thank you Ann
The sane appreciate the power of forgetfulness, It is only the insane, whose memory is so keen, as to remember those things that didn’t even happen.”<
But that belongs elsewhere.

Sewertoons AKA Lynette Tornatzky said...

GREAT poem Ann, thanks for finding and posting it.

Churadogs said...

Oh, for God's sake, Anonymous. GET OFF the poetry section with your sewer crap, at least. Jeeze, how obsessively inappropriate. Jeeze. You people are nuts.

FOGSWAMP said...

Love it, great poem indeed.

My 84 year old mind resembles that poem more frequently these days.

Read it to my Slavonic speaking wife and she sez "dobrah wiersza" (good poem).

Then of course we had to look up the author and learn more about her.


Sewertoons AKA Lynette Tornatzky said...

Hi FOG, if you find the great obituary that The Economist had a couple of months back for her, you will be amazed at her life and their excellent writing of it.

Alon Perlman said...

Reading Fog’s comment…
I one recent Calhoun Sunday, I was looking for Szymborska on Google, but found only a page of the Polish original
So I put the “woven tale of a dog” in Polish into "Google Translate" to see what would happen-
It was a very credible result, quite lyrical and evocative too, so I cleaned it up and went looking for the official translation.
When I found it, I discovered that my Polish source version was truncated. There was much much more to this dog’s story. The Google translation still held, but my clean-up moved it out of context. It would had been enough to have seen the accompanying picture - it was not about the dog, it was as much about his master.

Excerpted from the Annuals of “Lost in Translation”.

Churadogs said...

She is such an extraordinary poet. or was, I should say. Her death is a terrible loss to the world of poetry.

Carole said...

Nice poem. My favorite one (short one that is) is Ozymandias