Wislawa Szymborska quotes

  • I prefer the absurdity of writing poems to the absurdity of not writing poems.
    -- Wislawa Szymborska

    #Writing #Absurdity

  • Whether you want it or not, your genes have a political past, your skin a political tone. your eyes a political color. ... you walk with political steps on political ground.
    -- Wislawa Szymborska

    #Eye #Past #Color

  • Let the people who never find true love keep saying that there's no such thing. Their faith will make it easier for them to live and die.
    -- Wislawa Szymborska

    #True Love #People #Finding True Love

  • All the best have something in common, a regard for reality, an agreement to its primacy over the imagination. Even the richest, most surprising and wild imagination is not as rich, wild and surprising as reality. The task of the poet is to pick singular threads from this dense, colorful fabric.
    -- Wislawa Szymborska

    #Reality #Agreement #Imagination

  • I like being near the top of a mountain. One can't get lost here.
    -- Wislawa Szymborska

    #Hiking #Mountain #Lost

  • At the very beginning of my creative life I loved humanity. I wanted to do something good for mankind. Soon I understood that it isn't possible to save mankind.
    -- Wislawa Szymborska

    #Creative #Humanity #Mankind

  • No day copies yesterday, no two nights will teach what bliss is in precisely the same way, with precisely the same kisses.
    -- Wislawa Szymborska

    #Kissing #Night #Two

  • I don't know the role I'm playing. I only know it's mine, non-convertible.
    -- Wislawa Szymborska

    #Roles

  • All is mine but nothing owned, nothing owned for memory, and mine only while I look.
    -- Wislawa Szymborska

    #Memories #Looks

  • When I pronounce the word Future, the first syllable already belongs to the past. When I pronounce the word Silence, I destroy it.
    -- Wislawa Szymborska

    #Past #Silence #Firsts

  • This terrifying world is not devoid of charms, of the mornings that make waking up worthwhile.
    -- Wislawa Szymborska

    #Morning #World #Waking

  • I'm old-fashioned and think that reading books is the most glorious pastime that humankind has yet devised.
    -- Wislawa Szymborska

    #Book #Reading #Thinking

  • Any knowledge that doesn't lead to new questions quickly dies out: it fails to maintain the temperature required for sustaining life.
    -- Wislawa Szymborska

    #Temperature #Failing

  • All imperfection is easier to tolerate if served up in small doses.
    -- Wislawa Szymborska

    #Imperfection #Easier #Tolerate

  • In every tragedy, an element of comedy is preserved. Comedy is just tragedy reversed.
    -- Wislawa Szymborska

    #Tragedy #Elements #Comedy

  • We're extremely fortunate not to know precisely the kind of world we live in. One would have to live a long, long time, unquestionably longer than the world itself.
    -- Wislawa Szymborska

    #Long #World #Kind

  • I'm working on the world, revised, improved edition, featuring fun for fools blues for brooders, combs for bald pates, tricks for old dogs.
    -- Wislawa Szymborska

    #Dog #Fun #World

  • My choices are rejections, since there is no other way, but what I reject is more numerous, denser, more demanding than before. A little poem, a sigh, at the cost of indescribable losses.
    -- Wislawa Szymborska

    #Loss #Choices #Rejection

  • Secret codes resound. Doubts and intentions come to light.
    -- Wislawa Szymborska

    #Light #Doubt #Secret

  • God was finally going to believe in a man both good and strong, but good and strong are still two different men.
    -- Wislawa Szymborska

    #Strong #Believe #Men

  • 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.
    -- Wislawa Szymborska

    #Usual #Should

  • I am a tarsier and a tarsier's son, the grandson and great-grandson of tarsiers, a tiny creature, made up of two pupils and whatever simply could not be left out...
    -- Wislawa Szymborska

    #Son #Two #Tiny

  • They say the first sentence in any speech is always the hardest. Well, that one's behind me, anyway.
    -- Wislawa Szymborska

    #Speech #Firsts #Wells

  • Memory at last has what I sought.
    -- Wislawa Szymborska

    #Memories #Lasts

  • Most of the earth's inhabitants work to get by. They work because they have to. They didn't pick this or that kind of job out of passion; the circumstances of their lives did the choosing for them. Loveless work, boring work, work valued only because others haven't got even that much, however loveless and boring--this is one of the harshest human miseries. And there's no sign that coming centuries will produce any changes for the better as far as this goes.
    -- Wislawa Szymborska

    #Jobs #Passion #Earth

  • Out of every hundred people, those who always know better: fifty-two.
    -- Wislawa Szymborska

    #Two #People #Fifty

  • Poets, if they're genuine, must keep repeating "I don't know." Each poem marks an effort to answer this statement, but as soon as the final period hits the page, the poet begins to hesitate, starts to realize that this particular answer was pure makeshift that's absolutely inadequate to boot. So the poets keep on trying, and sooner or later the consecutive results of their self-dissatisfaction are clipped together with a giant paperclip by literary historians and called their oeuvre.
    -- Wislawa Szymborska

    #Self #Effort #Trying

  • Poets yearn, of course, to be published, read, and understood, but they do little, if anything, to set themselves above the common herd and the daily grind.
    -- Wislawa Szymborska

    #Littles #Common #Grind

  • Well, one is inspired by the whole of life, one's own and somebody else's. You know how sometimes you hear great music, and music is completely untranslatable into words, into any words. A certain tension that is born when one listens to music could aid you in expressing something absolutely different.
    -- Wislawa Szymborska

    #Different #Inspired #Sometimes

  • Animals don't even try to look any different from what nature intended. They humbly wear their shells, scales, spines, plumes, pelts, and down. ... The conscious impulse to change one's appearance is found only among humans.
    -- Wislawa Szymborska

    #Animal #Trying #Looks

  • Inspiration is not the exclusive privilege of poets or artists. There is, there has been, there will always be a certain group of people whom inspiration visits. It's made up of all those who've consciously chosen their calling and do their job with love and imagination...Difficulties and setbacks never quell their curiosity. A swarm of new questions emerges from every problem that they solve. Whatever inspiration is, it's born from a continuous 'I don't know.
    -- Wislawa Szymborska

    #Jobs #Inspiration #Artist

  • History counts its skeletons in round numbers. A thousand and one remains a thousand, as though the one had never existed: an imaginary embryo, an empty cradle, ... emptiness running down steps toward the garden, nobody's place in line.
    -- Wislawa Szymborska

    #Running #War #Garden

  • Sometimes I write quickly, sometimes I spend several weeks on a single poem. I would really love for readers not to be able to guess which of the poems took so much work!
    -- Wislawa Szymborska

    #Writing #Able #Sometimes

  • Generally speaking, life is so rich and full of variety; you have to remember all the time that there is a comical side to everything.
    -- Wislawa Szymborska

    #Sides #Remember #Life Is

  • All the best have something in common, a regard for reality, an agreement to its primacy over the imagination.
    -- Wislawa Szymborska

    #Reality #Agreement #Imagination

  • I'm one-time-only to the marrow of my bones.
    -- Wislawa Szymborska

    #Bones

  • Loveless work, boring work, work valued only because others haven't got even that much, however loveless and boring--this is one of the harshest human miseries.
    -- Wislawa Szymborska

    #Misery #Boring #Loveless

  • But they know about us, they know, the four corners, and the chairs nearby us. Discerning shadows also know, and even the table keeps quiet.
    -- Wislawa Szymborska

    #Shadow #Four #Tables

  • When it comes, you’ll be dreaming that you don’t need to breathe; that breathless silence is the music of the dark and it’s part of the rhythm to vanish like a spark.
    -- Wislawa Szymborska

    #Dream #Dark #Silence

  • Life lasts but a few scratches of the claw in the sand.
    -- Wislawa Szymborska

    #Lasts #Scratches #Sand

  • No one feels good at four in the morning. If ants feel good at four in the morning —three cheers for the ants.
    -- Wislawa Szymborska

    #Morning #Cheer #Feel Good

  • Poorly prepared for the dignity of life, I barely keep up with the pace of the action imposed. Reality demands.
    -- Wislawa Szymborska

    #Reality #Demand #Pace

  • Whatever inspiration is, it's born from a continuous "I don't know.
    -- Wislawa Szymborska

    #Inspiration #Writing #Born

  • A Note Life is the only way to get covered in leaves, catch your breath on the sand, rise on wings; to be a dog, or stroke its warm fur; to tell pain from everything it's not; to squeeze inside events, dawdle in views, to seek the least of all possible mistakes. An extraordinary chance to remember for a moment a conversation held with the lamp switched off; and if only once to stumble upon a stone, end up soaked in one downpour or another, mislay your keys in the grass; and to follow a spark on the wind with your eyes; and to keep on not knowing something important.
    -- Wislawa Szymborska

    #Dog #Pain #Mistake

  • Dying - you can't do that to a cat.
    -- Wislawa Szymborska

    #Cat #Dying

  • There's simply too much fuss about myself,
    -- Wislawa Szymborska

    #Too Much

  • In the language of poetry, where every word is weighed, nothing is usual or normal. Not a single stone and not a single cloud above it. Not a single day and not a single night after it. And above all, not a single existence, not anyone's existence in this world.
    -- Wislawa Szymborska

    #Night #Clouds #World

  • I slide my arm from under the sleeper's head and it is numb, full of swarming pins, on the tip of each, waiting to be counted, the fallen angels sit.
    -- Wislawa Szymborska

    #Angel #Hands #Waiting

  • Such certainty is beautiful, but uncertainty is more beautiful still
    -- Wislawa Szymborska

    #Beautiful #Certainty #Stills

  • No one in my family has ever died of love. What happened, happened, but nothing myth-inspiring.
    -- Wislawa Szymborska

    #My Family #Myth

  • I've had the good fortune to read a lot of great American writers in translation, and my absolute beloved, for me one of the greatest writers ever, is Mark Twain. Yes, yes, yes. And Whitman, from whom the whole of 20th-century poetry sprung up. Whitman was the origin of things, someone with a completely different outlook. But I think that he's the father of the new wave in the world's poetry which to this very day is hitting the shore.
    -- Wislawa Szymborska

    #Father #Thinking #Different

  • Nothing can ever happen twice. In consequence, the sorry fact is that we arrive here improvised and leave without the chance to practice.
    -- Wislawa Szymborska

    #Sorry #Practice #Facts

  • Every beginning is only a sequel, after all, and the book of events is always open halfway through.
    -- Wislawa Szymborska

    #Book #Events #Halfway

  • I'm drowning in papers.
    -- Wislawa Szymborska

    #Paper #Drowning #Papers

  • You can find the entire cosmos lurking in its least remarkable objects.
    -- Wislawa Szymborska

    #Cosmos #Remarkable #Lurking

  • Somewhere out there the world must have an end.
    -- Wislawa Szymborska

    #World #End Of The World #Ends

  • Four billion people on this earth, but my imagination is still the same. It's bad with large numbers. It's still taken by particularity. It flits in the dark like a flashlight, illuminating only random faces while all the rest go blindly by, never coming to mind and never really missed. . . . I can't tell you how much I pass over in silence.
    -- Wislawa Szymborska

    #Taken #Dark #Numbers

  • It's a well-known fact: in order to follow doctor's orders, you have to be healthy as a horse.
    -- Wislawa Szymborska

    #Horse #Health #Order

  • The joy of writing. The power of preserving. Revenge of a mortal hand.
    -- Wislawa Szymborska

    #Revenge #Writing #Hands

  • Even a graphomaniac is an extremely complicated person.
    -- Wislawa Szymborska

    #Complicated #Persons

  • Contemporary poets are skeptical and suspicious even, or perhaps especially, about themselves. They publicly confess to being poets only reluctantly, as if they were a little ashamed of it. But in our clamorous times it's much easier to acknowledge your faults, at least if they're attractively packaged, than to recognize your own merits, since these are hidden deeper and you never quite believe in them yourself.
    -- Wislawa Szymborska

    #Believe #Littles #Never Quit

  • It's just not easy to explain to someone else what you don't understand yourself.
    -- Wislawa Szymborska

    #Easy

  • Is a decision made in advance really any kind of choice?
    -- Wislawa Szymborska

    #Decision #Choices #Kind

  • Even boredom should be described with gusto. How many things are happening on a day when nothing happens?
    -- Wislawa Szymborska

    #Boredom #Gusto #Should

  • Each of us has a very rich nature and can look at things objectively, from a distance, and at the same time can have something more personal to say about them. I am trying to look at the world, and at myself, from many different points of view. I think many poets have this duality.
    -- Wislawa Szymborska

    #Distance #Thinking #Views

  • I usually write for the individual reader -though I would like to have many such readers. There are some poets who write for people assembled in big rooms, so they can live through something collectively. I prefer my reader to take my poem and have a one-on-one relationship with it.
    -- Wislawa Szymborska

    #Writing #People #Rooms

  • I cannot imagine any writer who would not fight for his peace and quiet.
    -- Wislawa Szymborska

    #Fighting #Quiet #Imagine

  • I cannot speak for more than an hour exclusively about poetry. At that point, life itself takes over again.
    -- Wislawa Szymborska

    #Speak #Hours

  • I started earning a living as a poet rather early on.
    -- Wislawa Szymborska

    #Earning #Poet

  • Carry on, then, if only for the moment that it takes a tiny galaxy to blink!
    -- Wislawa Szymborska

    #Tiny #Moments #Blink

  • When I mention somebody, that doesn't necessarily mean that I identify with him, personally or poetically. I'm extremely happy when I encounter poets who are different than I am. The ones who have their own distinct poetics provide me with the greatest experiences.
    -- Wislawa Szymborska

    #Mean #Different #Encounters

  • Get to know other worlds, if only for comparison.
    -- Wislawa Szymborska

    #Other Worlds #World #Comparison

  • Today when two people decide upon a thoughtless and precipitate abbreviation of the physical space between them, they think, at least at that moment, that they're mutually attracted and drawn together by an overwhelming force.
    -- Wislawa Szymborska

    #Sex #Thinking #Two

  • Existentialists are monumentally and monotonously serious; they don't like to joke.
    -- Wislawa Szymborska

    #Serious #Existentialist #Jokes

  • After every war someone has to tidy up.
    -- Wislawa Szymborska

    #War

  • Though I may deny poets their monopoly on inspiration, I still place them in a select group of Fortune's darlings.
    -- Wislawa Szymborska

    #Inspiration #May #Groups

  • Nothing's a gift, it's all on loan
    -- Wislawa Szymborska

    #Loan

  • Even the worst book can give us something to think about.
    -- Wislawa Szymborska

    #Book #Thinking #Giving

  • I am who I am. A coincidence no less unthinkable than any other.
    -- Wislawa Szymborska

    #Who I Am #I Am Who I Am #Coincidence

  • Their faith will make it easier for them to live and die.
    -- Wislawa Szymborska

    #Easier

  • Poetic talent doesn't operate in a vacuum. There is a spirit of Polish poetry.
    -- Wislawa Szymborska

    #Vacuums #Spirit #Talent

  • There is so much Everything that Nothing is hidden quite nicely
    -- Wislawa Szymborska

  • Keep up the good work, if only for a while, if only for the twinkling of a tiny galaxy.
    -- Wislawa Szymborska

    #Tiny #Good Work #Twinkling

  • I'm fighting against the bad poet who is prone to using too many words.
    -- Wislawa Szymborska

    #Fighting #Poet

  • What does the world get from two people/who exist in a world of their own?
    -- Wislawa Szymborska

    #Two #People #World

  • Everyone needs solitude, especially a person who is used to thinking about what she experiences. Solitude is very important in my work as a mode of inspiration, but isolation is not good in this respect. I am not writing poetry about isolation.
    -- Wislawa Szymborska

    #Inspiration #Writing #Thinking

  • I have sympathy for young people, for their growing pains, but I balk when these growing pains are pushed into the foreground, when you make these young people the only vehicles of lifes wisdom.
    -- Wislawa Szymborska

    #Pain #People #Growing