“Life lasts but a few scratches of the claw in the sand.” ~ Wislawa Szymborska, poet

Polish Nobel Laureate Wisława Szymborska died on February 1, 2012, in her sleep at home in Kraków, at the age of 88. She was described by the Nobel committee as the “Mozart of  poetry” but with “something of the fury of Beethoven.” Click here to read more about her or to read more of her work, or click the following to read an article about the poet in The Guardian.



I’m a tranquilizer.
I’m effective at home.
I work in the office.
I can take exams
on the witness stand.
I mend broken cups with care.
All you have to do is take me,
let me melt beneath your tongue,
just gulp me
with a glass of water.

I know how to handle misfortune,
how to take bad news.
I can minimize injustice,
lighten up God’s absence,
or pick the widow’s veil that suits your face.
What are you waiting for—
have faith in my chemical compassion.

You’re still a young man/woman.
It’s not too late to learn how to unwind.
Who said
you have to take it on the chin?

Let me have your abyss.
I’ll cushion it with sleep.
You’ll thank me for giving you
four paws to fall on.

Sell me your soul.
There are no other takers.

There is no other devil anymore.

From POEMS NEW AND COLLECTED by Wisława Szymborska. English translation by Stanisław Barańczak and Clare Cavanagh, copyright ©1998 by Harcourt, Inc.