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In Praise of My Sister -- Wislawa Szymborska

Guest poem submitted by Kimbol Soques:
(Poem #1546) In Praise of My Sister
 My sister doesn't write poems,
 and it's unlikely that she'll suddenly start writing poems.
 She takes after her mother, who didn't write poems,
 and also her father, who likewise didn't write poems.
 I feel safe beneath my sister's roof:
 my sister's husband would rather die than write poems.
 And, even though this is starting to sound as
 repetitive as Peter Piper,
 the truth is, none of my relatives write poems.

 My sister's desk drawers don't hold old poems,
 and her handbag doesn't hold new ones.
 When my sister asks me over for lunch,
 I know she doesn't want to read me her poems.
 Her soups are delicious without ulterior motives.
 Her coffee doesn't spill on manuscripts.

 There are many families in which nobody writes poems,
 but once it starts up it's hard to quarantine.
 Sometimes poetry cascades down through the generations,
 creating fatal whirlpools where family love may founder.

 My sister has tackled oral prose with some success,
 but her entire written opus consists of postcards from vacations
 whose text is only the same promise every year:
 when she gets back, she'll have
 so much
 much to tell.
-- Wislawa Szymborska
        tr. Stanislaw Baranczak and Clare Cavanagh

NPR is so handy for the well-intentioned American autodidact!  When
Szymborska won the Nobel Prize for Poetry in 1996, _All Things Considered_,
the NPR evening news show, ran one of her poems.  I fell enough in love to
cause my loved ones to give me two of her translated books for Christmas.
This poem is from "View with a Grain of Sand: Selected Poems" (Harcourt
Brace and Co., 1995).  I don't have the original Polish, or I'd try to
reproduce it.

As for a gloss on this one -- it made me think of my own sister, and it made
me laugh.  What better reason to share?

For a pithy biography - and good head shot! - see

Kimbol Soques.

43 comments: ( or Leave a comment )

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