#Poetry Wislawa Szymborska
- Author: Wislawa Szymborska (1923 – 2012)
- Title: Sounds, Feelings, Thoughts: Seventy Poems by Wislawa Szymborska
- Genre: poems
- Published: 1981
- Table of contents: 261 pages
- Trivia: Wislawa Szymborskawas awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature 1996.
- Trivia: I could stare at Szymborka’s photo for hours!
- She looks like the cat that swallowed the canary.
- A person who appears self-satisfied especially
- …while concealing something mischievous.
- I saw an interview with Szymborska and
- …this is the still photo taken of it.
- She captured my heart with her ‘je m’en fiche’
- …( dont’ give a damn) attitude.
- With a cigarette in hand and swirling a glass of wine
- she commented on her life and poetry.
- When asked why she never published more than 350 poems?
- She answered:
- “I have a trash can in my home”.
- Her sense of humor and lack of pretentiousness,
- …that is what attracted me to her work.
Two Monkeys Brueghel
- I am not very good at interpeting poetry yet
- …and needed to research this poem.
- Szymbroska links the ‘control’ of the two monkeys
- to her situation and that of Brueghel.
- Brueghel painted this in 1562 while Spain
- dominated the two provinces The Spanish Netherlands.
- North: William of Orange became
- …stadtholder of Holland, Utrecht and Zeeland.
- South: Count of Egmont took charge of Flanders and Artois.
- Monkeys in chains is a symbol of repression and the
- ….background of Antwerp’s harbor is a symbol of freedom.
- Szymborska wrote this poem in 1957 as a condemnation
- ….of the repressive atmosphere of the Stalinist period.
Tone: is somber almost hopeless.
- “..beyond the window floats the sky and the sea splashes“
- …is a metaphor for freedom.
- Image of chained ‘animals’ looking out to the sea (freedom)
- …and not being able to free themselves.
- The speaker in the poem is taking a final exam in
- …“the History of Mankind” while the two monkeys look on.
- “One monkey stares and listens with mocking disdain,
- The other seems to be dreaming away–
- But when it is clear I don’t know what to say
- He prompts me with a gentle
- Clinking of his chain.”
- Words like “jingling chains,” the speaker who
- ‘ stutters and flounders’ or the description of
- the monkey’s ‘ ironic smile or dozing off
- ‘creates sense that any resistance was useless.
- Szymborska made me feel emotional because
- these animals represent the people who have become
- unemotional and with no voice under political repression.
- I asked myself: ” What would it feel like… being bound in chains?
Two Monkeys by Brueghel (trans. from the Polish by Magnus Kryski)
- I keep dreaming of my graduation exam:
- in a window sit two chained monkeys,
- beyond the window
- floats the sky,
- and the sea splashes.
- I am taking an exam on the history of mankind:
- I stammer and flounder.
- One monkey, eyes fixed upon me, listens ironically,
- the other seems to be dozing–
- and when silence follows a question,
- he prompts me
- with a soft jingling of the chain.
- It is said Szymborska is the ‘Mozart of poetry” .
- Her words are at times humorous yet powerful.
- By the 1950’s the political climate in Poland had changed considerably.
- Poetry was to become an extension of state propaganda and
- …a reinforcement of the official ideology.
- Nobel winner Szymborska (literature) did not include her
- …Stalinist poetry in her collected editions, she was too embarrassed.
- This was an excellent book and I would recommend it wholeheartedly.
- Coup de coeur!