February 1, 2012

a poet of the 21st century: Wislawa Szymborska


Modern poetry is like a funeral parlor: usually quite depressing which is why I am not a huge fan of modern "lets show how existentially challenged we are" poetry. 

Somehow, iambic pentameters, rhyming couplets, alliterations and Petrarchan sonnets feel more appropriate when men swept capes off their shoulders onto a muddy patch for a lady to tip toe across in the finest calfskin shoes; minstrels strummed love ballads on a lute and ladies-in-waiting washed in rose petals. Or however they washed. 

When Wislawa Szymborska won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1996, a collection of her poems landed under the Christmas tree. Out of courtesy, I read it. She wrote about politics and war and the depressing state of small-minded people but somehow her language was different; even playful. She died today, age 88. She lived most of her life in Kraków, Poland. I think she was quite remarkable, her poetry subtle, deep and hauntingly beautiful. Using simple everyday objects and detailed observations, Ms. Szymborska reflected on grand topics in a simple way.


excerpt from Dinosaur Skeleton

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