Adam in Barca


Travel Elegy by Wisława Szymborska
June 25, 2009, 8:35 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

To introduce my BU thesis (in an epigraph), I excerpted parts of this poem by the incredible Polish Nobel Laureate, Szymborska; as I’m about to embark on my writing-travel fellowship, it seemed apt to include the poem in its entirety here.

Travel Elegy by Wisława Szymborska

(translated by Stanislaw Baranczak and Clare Cavanagh)

Everything’s mine but just on loan,
nothing for the memory to hold,
though mine as long as I look.

Memories come to mind like excavated statues
that have misplaced their heads.

From the town of Samokov, only rain
and more rain.

Paris from Louvre to fingernail
grows web-eyed by the moment.

Boulevard Saint-Martin: some stairs
leading into a fadeout.

Only a bridge and a half
from Leningrad of the bridges.

Poor Uppsala, reduced to a splinter
of its mighty cathedral.

Sofia’s hapless dancer,
a form without a face.

Then separately, his face without eyes;
separately again, eyes with no pupils,
and, finally, the pupils of a cat.

A Caucasian eagle soars
above a reproduction of a canyon,
the fool’s gold of the sun,
the phony stones.

Everything’s mine but just on loan,
nothing for the memory to hold,
though mine as long as I look.

Inexhaustible, unembraceable,
but particular to the smallest fiber,
grain of sand, drop of water -
landscapes.

I won’t retain one blade of grass
as it’s truly seen.

Salutation and farewell
in a single glance.

For surplus and absence alike,
a single motion of the neck.

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2 Comments so far
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Happy Fourth of July, Adam.

Comment by world

I hope you are planning to write more articles like this. I want to read more on your thoughts since they are much like mine. I will certainly post a link to http://adaminbarca.wordpress.com/2009/06/25/travel-elegy-by-wislawa-szymborska/ on my site.

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