Mobile menu

The Joy of Writing (and translating) and more poems on poems
Thread poster: Jacek Krankowski
Jacek Krankowski  Identity Verified
English to Polish
+ ...
Feb 5, 2003


Why does this written doe bound through these written woods?

For a drink of written water from a spring

whose surface will xerox her soft muzzle?

Why does she lift her head; does she hear something?

Perched on four slim legs borrowed from the truth,

she pricks up her ears beneath my fingertips.

Silence - this word also rustles across the page

and parts the boughs

that have sprouted from the word \"woods.\"

Lying in wait, set to pounce on the blank page,

are letters up to no good,

clutches of clauses so subordinate

they\'ll never let her get away.

Each drop of ink contains a fair supply

of hunters, equipped with squinting eyes behind their sights,

prepared to swarm the sloping pen at any moment,

surround the doe, and slowly aim their guns.

They forget that what\'s here isn\'t life.

Other laws, black on white, obtain.

The twinkling of an eye will take as long as I say,

and will, if I wish, divide into tiny eternities,

full of bullets stopped in mid-flight.

Not a thing will ever happen unless I say so.

Without my blessing, not a leaf will fall,

not a blade of grass will bend beneath that little hoof\'s full stop.

Is there then a world

where I rule absolutely on fate?

A time I bind with chains of signs?

An existence become endless at my bidding?

The joy of writing.

The power of preserving.

Revenge of a mortal hand.

By Wislawa Szymborska (1996 Nobel Prize)

Translated by S. Baranczak & C. Cavanagh

More info about the author:

A review:

What do Poland and Argentina have in common?


More poems on poems




It can\'t take a joke,

find a star, make a bridge.

It knows nothing about weaving, mining, farming,

building ships, or baking cakes.

In our planning for tomorrow,

it has the final word,

which is always beside the point.

It can\'t even get the things done

that are part of its trade:

dig a grave,

make a coffin,

clean up after itself.

Preoccupied with killing,

it does the job awkwardly,

without system or skill.

As though each of us were its first kill.

Oh, it has its triumphs,

but look at its countless defeats,

missed blows,

and repeat attempts!

Sometimes it isn\'t strong enough

to swat a fly from the air.

Many are the caterpillars

that have outcrawled it.

All those bulbs, pods,

tentacles, fins, tracheae,

nuptial plumage, and winter fur

show that it has fallen behind

with its halfhearted work.

Ill will won\'t help

and even our lending a hand with wars and coups d\'etat

is so far not enough.

Hearts beat inside eggs.

Babies\' skeletons grow.

Seeds, hard at work, sprout their first tiny pair of leaves

and sometimes even tall trees fall away.

Whoever claims that it\'s omnipotent

is himself living proof

that it\'s not.

There\'s no life

that couldn\'t be immortal

if only for a moment.


always arrives by that very moment too late.

In vain it tugs at the knob

of the invisible door.

As far as you\'ve come

can\'t be undone.

By Wislawa Szymborska

Translated by S. Baranczak & C. Cavanagh

Direct link Reply with quote

To report site rules violations or get help, contact a site moderator:

You can also contact site staff by submitting a support request »

The Joy of Writing (and translating) and more poems on poems

Advanced search

Translation news

memoQ translator pro
Kilgray's memoQ is the world's fastest developing integrated localization & translation environment rendering you more productive and efficient.

With our advanced file filters, unlimited language and advanced file support, memoQ translator pro has been designed for translators and reviewers who work on their own, with other translators or in team-based translation projects.

More info »
Translators like you are producing higher quality translations faster with Lilt!

After years of research at Stanford University, Lilt has introduced a revolutionary new tool that will change the way you translate. Lilt learns how you translate to give you more personalized suggestions. Be more productive today! Use it FOR FREE!

More info »

All of
  • All of
  • Term search
  • Jobs