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World under Revision

The Poetry of Wisława Szymborska


Wojciech Ligęza

This book provides a comprehensive overview of the entirety of Wisława Szymborska’s poetic oeuvre. The author employs in-depth historical reflection on Szymborska’s beginnings to reveal that – without describing her post-war beginnings and reflecting on her early entanglement in socialist realist newspeak – Szymborska’s mature anti-dogmatic attitude will remain unclear. The book shows how Szymborska’s rhetoric and stylistics – figures of reservation, negation, contradiction, tautology, and repetition – are closely connected with the construction of the poetic world and affect the shape of her messages. After all, Wisława Szymborska is a poet of sophisticated wit, a surprising freedom of expression, and an unusual game with various literary styles, even with colloquial Polish.

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V Dialog with Texts of Culture

V Dialog with Texts of Culture

The Gallery of Ancestors: Literary Strolls

The encounter of Wisława Szymborska’s poetic quest with certain painting styles does not exhaust the theme of poetic revision. The language of art and the existing world order fall under the law of revision. In these poems, symbolic space overlaps with physical space. We enter the world created by art to quickly recognize that it bears characteristics of everyday reality. The poet operates with a multitude of perspectives, making things, as well as their reflections in texts of culture, constantly shift between artistic fabrication and the spontaneous truth of life.

In this chapter, we shall discuss the correspondence between Szymborska’s poetry and the arts – literature, theater, film, music, various nonartistic and documentary forms, and phenomena of mass culture. Let us supplement this list with philosophical writing. Here, the highest realms of thought and artistic mastery face their counterpoint in popular art – especially kitsch and circus prestidigitation, which the poet admired. In Szymborska’s poetry, all these cultural manifestations converge.

The recognition of culture as a friendly area, a place of great spirits’ communion, plays an important role in Szymborska’s work. Although the poet does not create erudite rebuses, her poems contain a wide range of literary references and quotations: from the Bible, Homer’s world, Plato’s dialogs, ancient tragedies, through the most respected, even cherished Montaigne and the greatest authors, like Dante, Shakespeare, and Thomas Mann, to Polish poets: Adam Mickiewicz,204 Cyprian Norwid, and Bolesław Leśmian. Of course, there are also some playful quotations and paraphrases. For instance, in a series of various names, data, and inscriptions we suddenly encounter Mickiewicz’s epea pteroenta, “słowiczku mój a leć a piej,” in translation transformed into Shelley’s “bird thou never wert” (“Pi,” LN 233). When expressing astonishment at the cruelty of nature that kills its perfect creations, Szymborska paraphrases Ignacy Krasicki: “Rejoice, O reason: instinct can err, too” (“Returning Birds,” NEF 139). And when viewing a map and considering the question of the downsized world, ←145 | 146→she uses the phrase from “A Parable of the Poppy by Czesław Miłosz:” “in every black pinprick/people keep on living” (Map, E 432).

This dialogue with predecessors enriches the poetic statement: it helps the poet support her own truth and crystallize her attitude. Timeless conversation with the past becomes a kind of school of thought. In her Nobel speech, Szymborska praises the concept of eternal novelty against the alleged exhaustion of literature: ““There’s nothing new under the sun”: that’s what you wrote, Ecclesiastes. But you yourself were born new under the sun. And the poem you created is also new under the sun, since no one wrote it down before you. And all your readers are also new under the sun.”205

Writers and readers belong to a great whole of created beings. Szymborska often views them in this cosmic perspective. Great artistic personalities appear as a great mystery, or even an exception in the development of the human species. There is also a negative version: Szymborska asks whether people would recognize the immensity of their loss if there were Shakespeare or Montaigne. Her review of Mongaigne’s Essays (published in Nonrequired Reading) suggests we should read this work “with astonishment” (NR 219) that such an unusual author and thinker has been woven into “the dense fabric of history” (NR 223). The tendency toward reflective wondering comes from Montaigne. Let us quote Szymborska’s symptomatic remark: “For me, [Montaigne] is one of the greatest writers in the world…. He wondered about everything. In fact, he taught me to wonder at the world and its diversity.”206 In Szymborska’s hierarchy, Montaigne always comes first. Here is a humorous passage from her Poczta literacka (Literary Post): “When pronounce the name Montaigne, we should stress the last syllable and bend one knee” (PL 104).

According to Szymborska, Essays are to this day an amazing self-portrait of a thinking man (WLN 661). Michel de Montaigne, like the great legislator of poetic humor and the “comedy of evolution,”207 Thomas Mann, become subject to anthropological reflection. The existence of these writers is the most ←146 | 147→important event in natural history. Szymborska extracts evidence for of bizarre efforts of matter, which culminated in the works of culture. Unusual abilities in the field of spirit distinguish man as a species – they are both dignifying and committing for the whole humankind. That is why Szymborska gives up capital letters and provocatively subsumes the names of great men under the category of common names. As in the words of the prehistoric mother: “My first sacred bellies/filled with minuscule Pascals” (“Cave,” NEF 147). In turn, in the balance of our achievements on a planetary scale, we read about the “mozarts,/platos, edisons out there” (“The Ball,” M 347).

In Nonrequired Reading, Szymborska’s return to the canon of world and Polish literature is significant. It is difficult to imagine discourse about human matters without this kind of literary references. In Nonrequired Reading, the reader will find insightful (usually brief) notes about Horace, Petronius, Pepys, Goethe, Leo Tolstoy, Laforgue, Czechowicz, and others. In creating portraits of writers, Szymborska often employs biographical narratives and quotations from diaries. Sometimes she associates a writer or philosopher with a general attitude, a particular way of understanding the world, or a certain lifestyle. If Montaigne epitomizes a wise man, Marcus Aurelius justifies skepticism and a mature understanding of human affairs (“The Old Professor”) and Alan Alexander Milne champions the vulnerable tenderness and naive wisdom located in a reality without history (“Hand”).

For Szymborska, the realm of reading is a safe territory, which she willingly visits. Studying life through reading and the experience of reading in life gain crucial importance in this poetry. The poet observes with anxiety the coming of an age of nonreading. Rejecting reading in favor of easier media such as television or the Internet is another great failure of our “post-humanistic” times. Soon people will forget what literature is and how they can benefit from contact with artistic works. The poem “Nonreading” presents a seemingly funny series of misunderstandings between the multi-volume masterpiece of Marcel Proust, In Search of Lost Time, and the mentality shaped by television and mass travel. Shallow and foolish conversations, typical of everyday life, are contrasted with the sagacious thought and artistic novel of this great outsider; quick changes of impressions with the need for concentration; self-indulgence with deep and searching reflection; slides viewed without focus with spiritual capital produced by memories. Prust’s masterpiece is in conflict with the culture of rapid information flow and the entertainment of flickering images:

Seven volumes – mercy.

Couldn’t it be cut or summarized,

Or better yet put into pictures (“Nonreading,” H 405).

←147 | 148→

The decline of cultural competences took place so quickly that the outstanding literary work – as an array of complex meanings – can no longer be read. The poet ironically shows the situations in which Homo novus perceives literature as distant, exotic, eccentric, or even – in the case of Proust – seek. In turn, the rejection of the so-called higher needs is considered to be a symptom of vigor and vitality. Perhaps, for didactic purposes, the poet creates a caricature, but this one-sided picture does not deviate much from detached psychological and sociological observation. Szymborska’s gloomy prophecy is now being fulfilled.

While the poem “Nonreading” gives voice to figures with whom the author would never identify, the poem “In a Mail Coach” (published in the same volume Here) reveals her spiritual affinities with the world of the romantic poet Juliusz Słowacki. The piece dialogs with The Letters of Juliusz Słowacki to His Mother. Significantly, by the accumulation of bodily and material details, Szymborska negates the romantic concept of journey.

There are many more portraits in this gallery of ancestors. Books, paintings, and musical pieces are in a way the natural environment for the figures of Wisława Szymborska’s poetry. The irreducible presence of cultural heritage does not have to be emphasized. In addition to various references to the canon of high literature and the most outstanding paintings, the textual sphere in Szymborska’s poetry includes biblical stories (“Synopsis,” “Lot’s Wife”), Greek mythology (“On the Banks of the Styx,” “Census,” “A Moment in Troy,” “Soliloquy for Cassandra”), historiographic sources (“Lesson,” “Voices,” “Beheading,” “A Tale Begun”), dialogue with biographical accounts (“Certainty,” “The Great Man’s House,” “The Classic,” “Autotomy,” “In Broad Daylight,” “In a Mail Coach”). But she never disregards the circulation of nonartistic documents: popular movies, television, photography, and letters.

A common property of all these poems is the position of the speaking “I” that oscillates between penetrating into the reality of cultural artifacts and going beyond their limits. In the latter case, the poet manifests a critical position by developing new readings which do not conform to the pattern of reception determined by discussed works. Szymborska’s intertextualism is rather moderate: significant quotes and references are often hidden in her texts. In fact, the two major characteristics of her poetics – literariness and colloquiality – complement each other perfectly.

Music and Circumstances

Critics and researches rarely pay attention to references to music in Szymborska’s poetry and Nonrequired Reading, even though several works belonging to this ←148 | 149→group have been extensively discussed. These include “Coloratura” and “Aging Opera Singer.”208 However, one ought to emphasize that – like in the case of the poet’s interest in painting – the art of sound as a subject of description is concerns a multiplicity of areas and meanings. Music appears in Szymborska’s reflection on the perfection of works and imperfections of artists, musical harmony and disharmonious human relations with the world, the lasting and passing of time, the beautiful nature of sound and nonbeautiful body, and finally – aesthetic delight (therapy and consolation) and life full of suffering.

We should start with musical metaphors. Szymborska often mentions music when considering other problems, and she helps the reader understand various phenomena by using musical terminology. After all, not only sight but also hearing of musical and extra-musical sounds is engaged in the study of the multiplicity of things. Like Zbigniew Herbert, Szymborska translates the qualities of painting and architecture into the language of music. This strategy makes it possible to express the inexpressible, at least to a certain extent, and strengthen admiration. Let us give several examples: the essence of Vermeer’s painting is best expressed by “a quartet consisting of two violins, bassoon, and harp” (NR 41). In turn, the Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris was not built, but “played upon a lute” (S 67), while the large collection of sculptures of Violet-le-Duca appears as “Gothic allegro vivace” (“Clochard,” S 67).

Another description of the musical tempo, “fast but not too much,” refers to the prudent handling of the gift of life, the contemplation of the ingenuity of nature, and the praise of beauty (“Allegro ma Non Troppo”). Scoffers and cosmic jokers cannot care less about Pythagorean perfection, because they do not want to get rid of defective human nature. They “Don’t take jesters into outer space” (“Warning,” LN 221) – as the ironic valuation of musical genres goes. As we remember, Szymborska’s poetic definition of onion is: “A centripetal fugue./Polyphony compressed” (“The Onion,” LN 223). Her polyphonic, contrapuntal, elaborate treatise about forms of nature and human existence incorporates the virtuoso metaphor.209

Death as a calm, rhythmic plunging in silence, deprived of fear and pain, goes into the area of the second edition of the world, which is almost perfect:

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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 (“I’m Working on the World,” COY 56).

Why did a man kill himself if he lived in the best company of records and books? It is impossible to answer this question. There is no use in the “comforting trumpet poised in black hands” or “Joy the spark of gods” (“The Suicide’s Room,” LN 225). Luis Amstrong will not play for those who killed themselves, there will be no chorus from Beethoven’s 9th Symphony to sing Schiller’s famous ode.

Music emerges as a realm of music lover’s joy – but also of philosophical consolation. Beyond beautiful and rational sound configurations, the world is unpredictable. People have to deal with dangerous fantasies of history and scourges of existence, and to accept suffering – “Bach’s fugue, played/for the time being/on a saw” (“I’m Working on the World,” COY 55) – that is how the poet describes our pathetic attempts and aspirations. The circus musical piece becomes an insightful description of the paradoxical imperfect mastery and the tawdry apogee of artistry. We listen to music in somewhat inappropriate conditions, isolated from the pain of the world. What resonates against the backdrop of cheerful compositions are the voices of the unhappy. Perhaps, it is the depth of human anxiety that produces eschatological dissonances. There is nothing we can do about it. As the voice in “Under One Small Star” makes clear: “I apologize for my record of minuets to those who cry from the depths” (CH 192).

However, releasing the joy of listening acquires a deeper meaning in Szymborska’s poetry. The artistic idea of opposing the macrocosm of the mind and the microcosm of tears is both interesting and unusual. The crying person does not know that there is a party in her tears, chemical elements are dancing and the revelers – oxygen, hydrogen, and nitrogen – are playing around (“Motion”). In this “very serious” 210 joke, regret escapes words. We are hearing the best music, Mozart’s Eine kleine Nachtmusik. The playfulness of words, rhythms, and images appears fine-tuned with the ball’s theme. Szymborska’s “Motion” presents – and, indeed, is – dance.

In Szymborska’s poetry, private confessions are quite exceptional. It is merely in passing, and rather indirectly, that we learn about her musical tastes. Let us ←150 | 151→quote a passage from Nonrequired Reading, where Szymborska is more explicit and emphasizes the therapeutic magic of Ella Fitzgerald’s music: “Her voice reconciles me to life, it cheers me. I can’t say the same for any other singer” (“Ella,” NR 276). The singer used gentle expressive means, which the poet valued highly. These remarks correspond to the late poem “Ella in Heaven” (from the volume Here), in which Ella Fitzgerald’s misfortunes find consolation in the God’s recognition of her talent. References to swing and improvised music, let us recall, appear already in Szymborska’s earliest, debut poems, e.g. “Black Song.”211 Still, music with vividly pulsating syncopes cannot overcome sadness ensuing from the disaster of war. Neither can it stop a self-destructive drive in an individual, as the poem “The Suicide’s Room” shows.

This reveals a wide scope of Szymborska’s musical interests – ranging from entertainment to classical music. We should not that, in many texts from Nonrequired Reading, Szymborska delightfully comments on books about music, including an album with Georg Händel’s biography and iconography, Frédéric Chopin’s correspondence, memories of Arthur Rubinstein, Fedor Chaliapin or Beniamino Gigli, Louis Armstrong’s autobiographical writings, Pablo Cassalis’ conversations, and the Hill brothers’ work on Antonio Stradivari. In these enchanting essays, the author’s curiosity turns in many different directions. Szymborska is interested in music and related issues, such as biographies of great artists, including the everyday life, myths, and social images of composers, the spiritual format of musicians, opera’s conventions, listening habits, the history of musical instruments, and therapies through the art of sound.

The poet’s “flashing,” often aphoristic remarks testify to the power and originality of reflection unfolded in Nonrequired Reading. It would be tempting to quote many different passages; however, we should restrict our discussion to a small selection. For instance, Szymborska gives a remarkable comment on Beniamino Gigli’s memoirs and his long outstanding career: “Wars revolutions, fascisms, crises are only moving decorations … while he stands at the front of the stage observing his diaphragm” (WLN 328). In turn, that is how she describes Pablo Casalis’ moral virtues: “words like freedom, human dignity and character sound the same in his mouth. Surprisingly, they sound as pure as the sound of his cello” (WLN 207).

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Apart from jazz, opera is another important theme addressed in Nonrequired Reading. In her discussion of Józef Kański’s, Szymborska employs anthropological categories with a subtle humor. Especially remarkable is the idea of juxtaposing librettos with taboos: “A strict personal politics prevails in the world of opera. Family relationships are prescribed by codes as inviolable as those governing primitive tribes. A soprano must be a bass’s daughter, a baritone’s wife, and a tenor’s lover. A tenor may neither generate an alto nor copulate with a contralto.” (NR 33). In the same text, exhibiting the same mastery of humor, Szymborska mocks complex plots and vague intrigues typical of many librettos.

In terms of reception, the paradox of opera is that the viewer-listener should do his or her best to respect the conventionality of the performance, to recognize that the actions on stage are subordinated to musical values. Typically, Szymborska prefers heresy, i.e. reception which runs afoul of established schemes. Thus, the poet continues to explore the border between the heavenly realm of musical perfection and its realization through an earthly, body engaging performance This confrontation, to be sure, triggers a comic side effect. But would it hurt to discover an inherent ridiculousness at the very heart of seriousness?

We can use Nonrequired Reading as an explanatory context for interpretation of Szymborska’s poems. The excellent poem “Coloratura” reveals the gap between the enchanting speech of sounds and the limitations of the body – the instrument which performs the piece. Of course, the poem relies on the forces of pastiche and parody. More importantly, however, “Coloratura” is a successful attempt at imitating the sound of an aria, which makes it both a story about musical language and a presentation of that language. For Szymborska’s heroine…

Oh yes, she Cares (with a high C)

for Fellow Humans (you and me);

for us she’ll twitter nothing bitter;

she’ll knit her fitter, sweeter glitter;

her vocal chords mince words for us

and crumble croutons, with crisp crunch

(lunch for her little lambs to munch)

into a cream-filled demitasse (S 84).

The musical ornamentation of coloratura manifests itself through images. The euphonic qualities of language are interwoven with linguistic humor. The artist performs a piece with as “thin” a texture as a hair (włos), with an extremely delicate and intricate design, singing in Italian (włoskim). The singer herself is the epitome of grace and appears as a unique work of art, a lavish filigree. When singing, she is no longer a real existing person.

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The stage on which the action of the opera performance takes place is a model example of the artificial world. The poet reinforced this impression by referring to women’s taste for the rococo (“twig-wigged tree,” “demitasse” – an association with porcelain figurines) and to galant musical style with all its lightness, grace, and finesse, which corresponds to this taste. From the very beginning, the reader is aware of the idea of translating music into poetic phrases. A too hasty interpretation would suggest that “Coloratura” is about singing technique and musical style, which find their perfect equivalent in poetic language.

The performed aria is fulfilled in the sound of words, which produces absurd combinations of events, while performing difficulties multiply the number of vicissitudes. In some conceivable parody of an Italian aria (let us remind that in the 1950s the poet was editing the libretto for the Polish Music Publishing House), there appears a ridiculous arrangement of masculine rhymes, and the parallelism od syntax underline the affective intensity of the heroine’s experiences. Szymborska’s poetic story describes an aria performance and is an aria itself – a parody of a nonexistent translation from Italian. A literary and musical play of the highest standing takes place on many levels of the text.

Coloratura refers to an elaborate melody, “colored” with passages, trills, runs, and wide leaps. It requires precision to keep in the rhythm of staccato intervals. In Szymborska’s poem, the coloratura-like ornamentation, based on one repeated syllable, crowns these complicated operations. To achieve an effect of multiplied sound, the poet turns to an image, which belongs to the field of optics: “she’ll knit her fitter, sweeter glitter” (S 84). There is an obvious link between the multiplied and fragmented sounds and the technique of bel canto.

The world of separate representations of the opera scene and the performance of the aria di coloratura do not communicate with anything that does not concern to the art of voice instruction. The fantastic plot refers to the performance of a musical text by the singer. As we have already noted, the lyrical action follows the path of sound associations. The initial bright tone characteristic of the freedom of singing is threatened by a dark tone, which means the artist’s vocal indisposition. A conspiracy of musical instruments seems to have been plotted, the prophecy of the end of the singer’s career is almost fulfilled. Szymborska juxtaposes the solfege with the Baltazar feast: “Basso Profondo, end this terror,/do-re-mi mene tekel et cetera!” (“Coloratura,” S 84). In this poem, which employs a specific musical monism in the buffo tone, the hell opens in the bass clef. In this poem, in which the poet in the tone of the buffo uses a kind of musical monism, the hell opens with a bass key. “Basso profondo” (“deep” bass) belongs to the worst officers of hell. Perhaps, to Beelzebub himself.

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And yet the artist comes out victorious from the fierce duel with her difficult vocal part: “her vox humana crystal-clears/the whole world up. And we’re all ears.” (S 85). In a similar poem by Stanisław Barańczak’s, titled Tenorzy (The Tenors), the voice in a not-so-charming bodily shell bears testimony to the transgression of human limits and retaliation against an unfavorable fate. Szymborska’s singer is in love with her own singing. However, this praise of artistry has a different side, too – there is a danger of reducing the human being to an effective singing machine. For pure art is inhuman: it speaks only of its own harmony and leaves no room for ordinary life. Culture often dismisses the bodily realm and the singer ought to renounce the body. What is most human, namely the body, should be subordinated to art. However, according to the poet, the wonderfully performed (and realized in language) aria can only achieve humanistic fulness when the artist bears in mind his or her own limitations and remains aware of the possibility of failure.

A wise, thought-provoking poetic joke (“Coloratura”) provides an interpretative context for the poem “The Classic” (from the volume Could Have). In this piece, the melancholic joke is combined with ironic sadness if not elegiac sorrow. The songs preserved for posterity prompt us to forget about the man, and the classical work, according to its etymology, is a perfect work. The separation of the eternal art from the mortal author has a paradoxical form of reduction to perfection:

A few clods of dirt, and his life will be forgotten.

The music will break free from circumstance….

Everything that’s not a quintet

will become a superfluous sixth.

Everything that’s not a choir made of forty angels

will fall silent, reduced to barking dogs, a gendarme’s belch (“The Classic,” CH 186).

Music eliminates nonmusical conditions. It does not tolerate intruders in the arrangement of forms. That is why episodes of defamed and tainted life will always “sound” dissonant. For the music of angels did not emerge in heavenly conditions, and its author was not a pure spirit. Reduction to perfection eliminates these crude and trivial sounds that hurt a delicate ear. We cannot allow the ordinary or vulgar element to invade the territory of perfection. As the poet reminds us, Romanticism had not arrived yet. Musical subjectivism was still unknown. The classic is not focused on expressing moods, illustrating our struggle with fate or telling the story about himself in the language of sound. Aesthetic listeners, in turn, set aside the author’s pain and loneliness, the envy which surrounds him, ←154 | 155→the unfriendly public, his hard, often backbreaking work, financial problems, and other hardships of life.

Wisława Szymborska devised a poetic policy of reclamation.212 It restores what we do not want to remember, makes the recipient aware of the anguish of creation. Therefore, it does not aim to hide human misery, which underlies success and (usually posthumous) fame. In Szymborska, death appears as an ironist. Let us quote a passage about the fate of a composer’s earthly goods: “The shoes, inconvenient witnesses, will be tossed on the trash heap./The least gifted of his pupils will get the violin…./His poor mother’s letters will line the stomachs of mice.” (“The Classic,” CH 186). The biography will also be censored (“The ill-fated love will fade away,” CH 186). This is how the irony of private history finds its fulfillment.

In “The Classic,” the moving scene of cleaning up after the deceased is also a scene of transformation: the master is prepared to embrace eternal life in art, where, liberated from corporeal existence, he will speak only through his works. This brings to mind “The Master” by Czesław Miłosz (a poem about elevation through art and the idleness of material life) and Zbigniew Herbert’s “Beethoven” (about disease, deafness, and masterpieces) or his poetic prose “Dom poety” (The Poet’s House;213 about luring out an artistic presence, correcting one’s image, and a sterile museum).

Perfection and death are one and the same thing. Szymborska’s “The Classic” expresses rebellion against mythologization and mystification, which present mortal life as a disgrace to immortal art. The poet, in turn, attentively describes the problematic inventory of things bequeathed by the artist, knowing that music will still find delight in music. That is why, in her poetry, quartets and cataplasm, or quintets and a dusty wig can reside together in a strange harmony. Contrary to the widespread image of the classic, Szymborska’s composer is not reduced to absolute pitch and a hand writing brilliant sheet music. Her compassionate description of the artist highlights the misery of existence. Because of a striking disproportion between artistic achievements and the vanity of life, two orders emerge: the earthly household and the realm of artistic immortality. After the annihilation of objects, pure music remains. At this moment, as the poet ironically assumes, nothing would interrupt the creation of the aesthetic paradise.

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After the death of the master (the protagonist of Szymborska’s poem is someone like Mozart) and the disposal of his earthly belongings, what remains is his eternal music:

Now hark! ye mortals, listen, listen now,

take heed, in rapt amazement,

O rapt, O stunned, O heedful mortals, listen,

O listeners – now listen – be all ears – (“The Classic,” CH 186)

Aesthetic ecstasy makes people forget about their trivial concerns and painful fate. Like in Bergman’s movie, The Magic Flute, the audience is engrossed in Mozart’s operatic masterpiece. The camera stops at some focused faces ablaze with pleasure of musical experience. The listeners surrender themselves to the magic of music. Their existence boils down to the reception of sounds. They do not want to go back to a normal life. Do they think about the imperfect circumstances, in which the song was created? This seems rather doubtful. Apparently, mortals want to communicate with other mortals using the signs of art, which escape the limitations of time.

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204 See J. Brzozowski, “W stronę Lozanny. Wisławy Szymborskiej czytanie Mickiewicza,” Rocznik Towarzystwa Literackiego im. A. Mickiewicza, XXXI/1996, Warszawa 1997.

205 W. Szymborska, “Nobel Lecture,” (15.02.2019).

206 “Lekcja zdziwienia światem. Pierwszy wywiad telewizyjny z Wisławą Szymborską przeprowadzony przez Teresę Walas w dniu przyznania Poetce Nagrody Nobla,” in: Radość czytania Szymborskiej. Wybór tekstów krytycznych, ed. S. Balbus i D. Wojda, Kraków 1996, p. 22.

207 See A. Gronczewski, “Rzeczy Tomasza Manna – poeta jako czytelnik (II),” in: Obiad na ruinach. Eseje, Warszawa 1992, pp. 150–152.

208 M. Głowiński, “Wisławy Szymborskiej ‘Stary śpiewak’”, Kwartalnik Artystyczny 2014, no. 1, pp. 73–78.

209 See A. Węgrzyniakowa, “Barokowa fuga na temat różnicy bytów”, in: O poezji Wisławy Szymborskiej, pp. 80–93. A. Hejmej discusses the semantics of the word “fugue” in poetry. See his Muzyczność dzieła literackiego, Wrocław 2001, pp. 119–123.

210 J. Jarzębski, “Po jednaj stronie gardło, śmiech po drugiej. Bariery ontologiczne w poezji Szymborskiej,” in: Gry poetyckie i teatralne, Kraków 2018, p. 227.

211 See J. Wiśniewski, “Wisława Szymborska o muzykach i muzyce,” in: Ku harmonii? Poetyckie style słuchania muzyki w wierszach polskich autorów po 1945 roku, Łódź 2013, p. 175–178.

212 See. E. Balcerzan, W szkole świat. “O poezji Wisławy Szymborskiej”, in: Śmiech pokoleń – płacz pokoleń, Kraków 1997, pp. 105–106; 109.

213 See Z. Herbert, The Collected Poems 1956–1958, transl. A. Valles, London 2009.