Choice of essays- Translated by Karolina Krasuska and Jedrzej Burszta
The Poet and the World: Nobel Lecture: Wisława Szymborska
The Poet and the World: Nobel Lecture
Published in: Wisława Szymborska, Poems New and Collected 1957–1997, trans. Stanisław Barańczak and Claire Cavanagh (New York: Harcourt, 1998).
They say the first sentence in any speech is always the hardest. Well, that one’s behind me, anyway. But I have a feeling that the sentences to come — the third, the sixth, the tenth, and so on, up to the final line — will be just as hard, since I’m supposed to talk about poetry. I’ve said very little on the subject, next to nothing, in fact. And whenever I have said anything, I’ve always had the sneaking suspicion that I’m not very good at it. This is why my lecture will be rather short. All imperfection is easier to tolerate if served up in small doses.
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 … When filling in questionnaires or chatting with strangers, that is, when they can’t avoid revealing their profession, poets prefer to use the general term “writer” or replace “poet” with the name of whatever job they do in...
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