Thursday, August 14, 2008

Breaking poetry

”Above the blank page lurking, set to spring
are letters that may compose themselves all wrong,
besieging sentences
from which there is no rescue”


In my hometown library, there are a few shelves of literature in “foreign languages”. Part of it is in English, and an even smaller part is made up of poetry in English. Yet someone had the good judgement of acquiring a collection of poems by Wisława Szymborska, all hiding in a white dust jacket for nearly three decades.

Though invited to the town of Radom, I did not quite make it to Poland this summer, and now there is no time. I count the days and find that there are only five more until everything turns serious with teaching, conferences and the annual kick-off activities at the department. I finish her poem, “The Joy of Writing” and turn to my second find, a collection of Modern Scandinavian Poetry, also printed sometime there in the early eighties.

Harry Martinson:

“We sat on the shore of forgotten words
and tired hands
where only the wind-blown sands are eternal
to those who build on sands”

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