Nobel Laureate Wislawa Szymborska in The Atlantic

The Polish poet, who died this week, published several poems in the magazine.

barber_poet_post.jpg

Wikimedia

Polish poet Wislawa Szymborska, the 1996 Nobel laureate in literature, died this week in Krakow at the age of 88. Several translations of her poems first appeared in The Atlantic, including "A Greek Statue" (March 2007):

With the help of people and other disasters,
time has worked pretty hard on it.
First it took away the nose, later the genitals,
one by one fingers and toes,
with the passing of years arms, one after the other,
right thigh and left thigh,
back and hips, head and buttocks,
and what fell off, time broke into pieces,
into chunks, into gravel, into sand.

When someone living dies this way,
much blood flows with each blow.

Yet marble statues perish pale
and not always all the way.

Of the one we are speaking of, only a torso remains,
like breath held under exertion
as it now must
draw unto
itself
all the grace and weight
of what has been lost.

And it pulls this off,
pulls this off still,
pulls us in and dazzles,
dazzles and endures--

Time deserves an honorable mention here,
as it stopped midway
and left something for later.

Translated from the Polish by Joanna Trzeciak

The Atlantic also published "A Little Bit About the Soul" (July 2000) and "A Word on Statistics" (May 1997).

See Szymborska's Atlantic archive.

Presented by

David Barber is The Atlantic's poetry editor.

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (and Why)

Cooking for yourself is one of the surest ways to eat well. Bestselling author Mark Bittman teaches James Hamblin the recipe that everyone is Googling.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (and Why)

Cooking for yourself is one of the surest ways to eat well.

Video

Before Tinder, a Tree

Looking for your soulmate? Write a letter to the "Bridegroom's Oak" in Germany.

Video

The Health Benefits of Going Outside

People spend too much time indoors. One solution: ecotherapy.

Video

Where High Tech Meets the 1950s

Why did Green Bank, West Virginia, ban wireless signals? For science.

Video

Yes, Quidditch Is Real

How J.K. Rowling's magical sport spread from Hogwarts to college campuses

Video

Would You Live in a Treehouse?

A treehouse can be an ideal office space, vacation rental, and way of reconnecting with your youth.

More in Entertainment

Just In