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Love at first sight - Wislawa Szymborska

The Nobel committee awarded Wislawa Szymborska the coveted prize for “poetry that with ironic precision allows the historical and biological context to come to light in fragments of human reality.” While this curt description does provide a glimpse of Szymborska’s expansive scope, and the multi-coloured hues of her oeuvre of fantastic realism, there is more. I find in Szymborska’s particular vision of the world, a kind of third sight, a probing finger that unravels the mysterious silences of the ordinary. She is, at the heart of it, an observer. While poets can be photographers, slowly uncovering little details that make a tableux, Szymborska is the banyan tree by the highway where the business of life and nature takes place.


For her the world is an adventure, and the human condition is a miniscule blip in the dance of evolution. She locates quintessential signs of sensation and humanity, within the chaotic sprawl of the universe. What she pulls off with all the chutzpah of an illusionist, is a seamless fusion between two vastly different universes.


So when we listen to her speaking about love, it is with the awareness of a persona that is at once removed from the experience, and yet completely invested in the selves that are circumscribed with careful detail.


The last line of the poem falls

as softly as the thump of a bucket

on wet earth, deep underground,

in a well.


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