Szymborska and Me.



It’s great to return back to those books, which inspire you in your old times. It’s great to re-open those pages which remind you of certain memories. Human life is made of memories. And we live either to cherish memories or to make some.


At that time, when I was searching blindly for some answers of my being, I found Szymborska. Szymborska’s words hold me, her lyrics hold my breath and calm me down. Her words make me feel the air, the chair, the table, the pillow and the war. At the summer of 46-degree temperature, Szymborska provides my soul, relief. Neither I know her language nor she knows mine but there was something much beyond then words that connects us.

While coming to Toronto from my home country I brought some books with me and Wislawa’s poems were among them. Today almost after a year I turned the pages and found that smell of summer of my home country, that harsh air and that prolonged peace in those pages. I cam smell myself in those pages. ahhhh!

Certainly, this nostalgia is not because I am far away from my home or I am reading good words, but it is because deep down My soul urge to connect with something original, pure, simple and true.


Being displaced from its origin is now the reality of mankind but what is more disastrous is – we are closing the gates of connecting with each other.

I saw a large number of People, who almost completed their half lifetime and still roam in shock, pain and clueless about their lives. Some have no idea and some are ruined by the contemporary conspiracies of war, conflict and civil uprising.

Is man really searching for life on other planets or is he bored from destroying the same one again and again?

Szymborska born in Poland in 1923 and awarded with Nobel Prize in literature in 1966. With Wit and humor, layered with catharsis, she defends individual subjectivity against collect thinking. She is undoubtedly one of the greatest European poets ever lived.

“Cat in an empty Apartment” is one among her most remarkable poem. Some of the lines are –

“Nothing seems different here

But nothing is the same

Nothing has been moved

But there’s more space”.


Now, with a warm cup of coffee, I am reading her another deeply touching and most famous poem is “The End and the beginning” which explore the post-war diaspora. Let me share some lines with you –

“After every war

someone has to tidy up.

Things won’t pick

themselves up, after all….”




Another one which is my favorite is and I think which defines my current stage of life is –  “Writing a resume ” –

“What needs to be done?
Fill out the application
and enclose a résumé.

Regardless of the length of life,
a résumé is best kept short.”

Wislawa Szymborska has written no more than 250 poems. Perhaps this accounts for the fact that almost every poem is a masterpiece.

For Szymborska, the war was a formative experience of youth. The attempt to cope with a collapse of reality is the starting point of her poetry and the foundation of her la search for life. This is shown by one of her early untitled poems, which begins with the words: “We used to know the world inside out”. –

We used to know the world inside out:

It was so small that it fitted into two clenched fists,

So easy, that it could be described with a smile,

As ordinary as the echo of old truths in a prayer.

History did not greet us with a victorious fanfare:

It poured dirty sand into our eyes.

Before us, there were roads, distant and blind,

Poisoned wells, bitter bread.

Our war loot was information about the world:

It is so big that it fits into two clenched fists,

So difficult that it can be described with a smile,

As strange as the echo of old truths in a prayer.


Szymborska’s poetry of war and grieving inspires the poetry of the new generation, thinking in accordance with the directives of socialist realism.


Her poetry brings me back to my present and gives me enough reasons to feel gratitude towards life. Going through her poems is like going through different time periods of my life, different parts of the world, going inside and re-considering our beliefs.


Thank you, Szymborska


  • Gursimran Datla

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