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 –

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.


June 4, 2009, 10:51 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Welcome to my—hopefully not-too-cheesy—blog charting my travels in Barcelona and the rest of Spain. I’ll be here for the summer, studying poetry and visual art, thanks to the generosity of the Robert Pinsky Global Fellowship and donor Bob Hildreth.

If you have any questions or comments, please send me an e-mail at

Thanks for reading!