Wislawa Szymborska (1923 - )
...Polish poet and winner of the 1996 Nobel Prize for Literature, is known
for her direct and concise lyric poetry that addresses universal themes, such as truth, love, and hope. Szymborska
studied sociology and Polish literature at Jagellonian University in Krakow, Poland, where she also reviewed books
for a Polish literary magazine. Her early poems reflect communist values, but she repudiated her communist poetry
in later publications. Szymborska's work, ranging from philosophical inquiries to observations of everyday life,
have established her as one of Poland's most popular poets, although she remained largely unknown outside her country
until she won the Nobel Prize.
Once we knew the world well.
It was so small it could fit in a handshake,
so easy you could describe it with a smile,
it was ordinary as old truths in a prayer.
History did not welcome us with fanfares.
It threw filthy dust into our eyes.
Before us only dead-end roads,
poisoned wells, bitter bread.
Our war's booty is knowledge of the world.
It is so large it can fit in a handshake.
so difficult you can describe it with a smile,
it is extraordinary as old truths in a prayer.