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Cat in an Empty Apartment -- Wislawa Szymborska

Guest poem sent in by John K. Taber
(Poem #1608) Cat in an Empty Apartment
 Die—you can't do that to a cat.
 Since what can a cat do
 in an empty apartment?
 Climb the walls?
 Rub up against the furniture?
 Nothing seems different here,
 but nothing is the same.
 Nothing has been moved,
 but there's more space.
 And at nighttime no lamps are lit.

 Footsteps on the staircase,
 but they're new ones.
 The hand that puts fish on the saucer
 has changed, too.

 Something doesn't start
 at its usual time.
 Something doesn't happen
 as it should.
 Someone was always, always here,
 then suddenly disappeared
 and stubbornly stays disappeared.

 Every closet has been examined.
 Every shelf has been explored.
 Excavations under the carpet turned up nothing.
 A commandment was even broken,
 papers scattered everywhere.
 What remains to be done.
 Just sleep and wait.

 Just wait till he turns up,
 just let him show his face.
 Will he ever get a lesson
 on what not to do to a cat.
 Sidle toward him
 as if unwilling
 and ever so slow
 on visibly offended paws,
 and no leaps or squeals at least to start.
-- Wislawa Szymborska
        (Translated from the Polish by Joanna Maria Trzeciak)

In newsgroups devoted to pets, the passing of a beloved cat is often
mentioned to a lot of sympathy. But often it is the owner who dies while the
cat is the survivor, though this eventuality has never been posted to my

This is a wonderful poem by one of my favorites, Wyslawa Szymborska, the
Polish poet who won the Nobel a few years ago. It is just like her to take
an unexpected point of view, a little thing perhaps, and open a whole world.

Add this to the latest poems on cats.



Biography of Szymborska

and of Trzeciak:

88 comments: ( or Leave a comment )


How appropriate. The author definitely knew cats. I love this poem
and have forwarded it to several of my cat friends.

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to read it.

Lynn A. Bucher
owned by Angie
currently owned by Smidgen

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Nice poem thanks, it's very nostalgic to me, and I listening sad music hahaha

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Laura Brown said...

RIP Ms Szymborska. One of the greats.

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Kat said...

To me, this has always been one of Szymborska's favorite poems. I like to interpret it as the feelings of a widowed (human) life partner.

borse in tessuto said...

Well I seldom encounter poems about cat. This is the first one. I'm happy that I read this because I love cats so much. Thank you very much!

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