Synopses & Reviews
A new collected volume from the Nobel Prize–winning poet that includes, for the first time in English, all of the poems from her last Polish collection
One of Europe’s greatest recent poets is also its wisest, wittiest, and most accessible. Nobel Prize–winner Wislawa Szymborska draws us in with her unexpected, unassuming humor. Her elegant, precise poems pose questions we never thought to ask. “If you want the world in a nutshell,” a Polish critic remarks, “try Szymborska.” But the world held in these lapidary poems is larger than the one we thought we knew.
Carefully edited by her longtime, award-winning translator, Clare Cavanagh, the poems in Map trace Szymborska’s work until her death in 2012. Of the approximately two hundred and fifty poems included here, nearly forty are newly translated; thirteen represent the entirety of the poet’s last Polish collection, Enough, never before published in English.
Map is the first English publication of Szymborska’s work since the acclaimed Here, and it offers her devoted readers a welcome return to her “ironic elegance” (The New Yorker).
"No reader, not even poetry-phobes, should miss the bright revelations of Nobel laureate Szymborska. [...] Syzmborska is sharply ironic and lithely philosophical, pondering the phenomenal precision of dreams and the elusiveness of meaning. The neat, prancing lyrics collected in this slender, piercing book are delectable and profound." --Booklist
PRAISE FOR WISLAWA SZYMBORSKA
"She teaches us how the world defies and evades the names we give it."--Edward Hirsch, The New York Times Magazine
"[Szymborska] is unquestionably one of the great living European poets. She's accessible and deeply human and a joy--though it is a dark kind of joy--to read. . . . She is a poet to live with."--Robert Hass, The Washington Post Book World
"Wislawa Szymborska is not only one of the finest poets living today, but also one of the most readable."--Charles Simic
PRAISE FOR WISLAWA SZYMBORSKA
"Szymborska is unquestionably one of the great living European poets. She's deeply human and a joy to read . . . [A] poet to live with."--Robert Hass, The Washington Post Book World
"She captures the nightmarish contingency of human survival, and the human callousness toward nature, with an ironic elegance miraculously free of bitterness."--The New Yorker
"The wry and slyly tender voice of Wislawa Szymborska couldn't belong to anyone else."
New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice
“Both plain-spoken and luminous . . . Szymborska’s skepticism, her merry, mischievious irreverence and her thirst for the surprise of fresh perception make her the enemy of all tyrannical certainties. Hers is the best of the Western mind—free, restless, questioning.” — New York Times Book Review
“Vast, intimate, and charged with the warmth of a life fully imagined to the end, there’s no better place for those unfamiliar with her work to begin.” — Megan O’Grady, Vogue
“Listening to Clare Cavanagh speak of translation as an art is a reminder that translators must be as adept as poets at working with words . . . Map is not only impressive because of Szymborska’s precise, intimate, and observationally funny poems . . . but because of Cavanagh and Baranczak’s tireless dedication in bringing them to English without sacrificing their forms.” — Jacob Victorine, Publishers Weekly profile
“Nobel laureate Szymborska’s gorgeous posthumous collection, translated and edited by her confidant, Cavanagh, with Baranczak, includes more than 250 poems, selected from 13 books, dating back to 1952, as well as previously unreleased poems from as far back as 1944. This revered Polish poet, who came to fame well after the poet Charles Simic first handed her work to an editor, interweaves insights into the suffering experienced during World War II and the Cold War brutalities of Stalin with catchy, realistic, colloquial musings on obvious and overlooked aspects of survival. Her poems are revelatory yet rooted in the everyday. She writes about living with horrors, and about ordinary lives: people in love, at work, enjoying a meal. Throughout, Szymborska considers loss and fragility, as when former lovers walk past each other and an aging professor is no longer allowed his vodka and cigarettes. She writes, too, of the imprecision of memory, and, in the title poem, the discovery that maps ‘give no access to the vicious truth.’ This is a brilliant and important collection.” — Mark Eleveld, Booklist, starred review
“Szymborska (1923–2012), winner of the 1996 Nobel Prize in Literature, has her vast and impressive poetic repertoire on full display in this posthumously published volume. Ordered chronologically, the book reveals her development over seven decades, including a gradual departure from end rhyme and the sharpening of her wit. As multitudinous as Whitman, she conveyed deep feeling through vivid, surreal imagery and could revive clichéd language by reconnecting it to the body in startling ways: ‘Listen,/ how your heart pounds inside me.’ To say that Szymborska wore many hats as a poet is an understatement: odes, critiques, and persona poems are just a few of the forms her writing took. Yet, despite their diversity, the constants of her poems were nuance and observational humor: ‘Four billion people on this earth,/ but my imagination is still the same.’ Also apparent is Szymborska’s rare ability to present an epiphany in a single line, and her bravery in writing toward death: ‘But time is short. I write.’ Ever the student, she obsessively explored the histories and processes of writing, never far from penning another Ars Poetica. ‘Everything here is small, near, accessible,’ Szymborska writes in the title poem—a maxim about the way the reader feels within her lines.” — Publishers Weekly, starred and boxed review
-Both plain-spoken and luminous . . . Szymborska's] is the best of the Western mind--free, restless, questioning.- -- New York Times Book Review
A New York Times Editors' Choice
-Vast, intimate, and charged with the warmth of a life fully imagined to the end. There's no better place for those unfamiliar with her work to begin.-
One of Europe's greatest poets is also its wisest, wittiest, and most accessible. Nobel Prize winner Wisława Szymborska draws us in with her unexpected, unassuming humor. -If you want the world in a nutshell, - a Polish critic remarked, -try Szymborska.- But the world held in these lapidary poems is larger than the one we thought we knew.
Edited by her longtime, award-winning translator, Clare Cavanagh, Map traces Szymborska's work until her death in 2012. Of the approximately two hundred fifty poems included here, nearly forty are newly translated; thirteen represent the entirety of the poet's last Polish collection, Enough, never before published in English. Map offers Szymborska's devoted readers a welcome return to her -ironic elegance- (TheNew Yorker).
-Her poems offer a restorative wit as playful as it is steely and as humble as it is wise . . . Her wry acceptance of life's folly remain s] her strongest weapon against tyranny and bad taste.-
-- Los Angeles Times Book Review
From one of Europes most prominent and celebrated poets, a collection remarkable for its graceful lyricism. With acute irony tempered by a generous curiosity, Szymborska documents lifes improbability as well as its transient beauty to capture the wonder of existence. Preface by Mark Strand. Translated by Stanislaw Baranczak and Clare Cavanagh, winners of the PEN Translation Prize.
A collection of poems from Nobel Prize-winner Szymborska.
An exciting collection of poems by Wislawa Szymborska. When Here
was published in Poland, reviewers marveled, “How is it that she keeps getting better?” These twenty-seven poems, as rendered by prize-winning translators Clare Cavanagh and Stanislaw Baranczak, are among her greatest ever. Whether writing about her teenage self, microscopic creatures, or the upsides to living on Earth, she remains a virtuoso of form, line, and thought.
From the title poem:
I cant speak for elsewhere,
but here on Earth weve got a fair supply of everything.
Here we manufacture chairs and sorrows,
scissors, tenderness, transistors, violins, teacups, dams, and quips . . .
Like nowhere else, or almost nowhere,
youre given your own torso here,
equipped with the accessories required
for adding your own children to the rest.
Not to mention arms, legs, and astonished head.
This definitive edition of Szymborskas poetry in English includes the 100 poems in View with a Grain of Sand as well as sixty-four newly translated poems and her 1996 Nobel Prize acceptance speech. Translated by Stanislaw Bara«nczak and Clare Cavanagh.
Wislawa Szymborska's poems are admired around the world, and her unsparing vision, tireless wit, and deep sense of humanity are cherished by countless readers. Unknown to most of them, however, Szymborska also worked for several decades as a columnist, reviewing a wide variety of books under the unassuming title "Nonrequired Reading."
As readers of her poems would expect, the short prose pieces collected here are anything but ordinary. Reflecting the author's own eclectic tastes and interests, the pretexts for these ruminations range from books on wallpapering, cooking, gardening, and yoga, to more lofty volumes on opera and world literature. Unpretentious yet incisive, these charming pieces are on a par with Szymborska's finest lyrics, tackling the same large and small questions with a wonderful curiosity.
From a writer whom Charles Simic calls "one of the finest poets living" comes a collection of witty, compassionate, contemplative, and always surprising poems. Szymborska writes with verve about everything from love unremembered to keys mislaid in the grass. The poems will appear, for the first time, side by side with the Polish originals, in a book to delight new and old readers alike.
a bumptious, stuck-up word.
It should be written in quotes.
It pretends to miss nothing,
to gather, hold, contain, and have.
While all the while it's just
a shred of a gale.
A new collected volume from the Nobel Prize–winning poet, with over thirty poems never previously published together in English, including the thirteen poems from the final Polish collection, Enough.
About the Author
WISLAWA SZYMBORSKA (1923–2012) was born in Poland and worked as a poetry editor, translator, and columnist. She was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1996.
CLARE CAVANAGH, professor of Slavic and comparative literature at Northwestern, has received a PEN Translation Award for her work, with Stanislaw Baranczak, on Szymborska's poetry.
Table of Contents
From the Author xi
The Importance of Being Scared
By the Numbers
The Cost of Chivalry
Seeing the Light
That's the Spirit
In Cold Blood
The State of Fashion
Love in Bloom
Feet and Fate
Humor's Younger Brother
Bones to Pick
The Scales of Justice
Nowhere to Hide
The Long-Distance Walker
Back to Nature
Blowing Your Own Horn
The Road to Perfection
Trouble in Paradise
The Psychic Life of Pets
The Ninety-Pound Weakling
Do It Yourself
To Be Continued
How Not to Be Noble
For Every Occasion
On Your Toes
Childhood and Before
The Myth of Poetry
In Praise of Birds
Gladiators and Others
Bringing Up the Rear
Catherine the Not-So-Great
The Courtier's Inferno
The Art of Destruction
What's the Mystery?
The Vandals' Fate
Too Late, or When?
Graphology on the Barricades
I Was Traveling with the Fairest
Mummies and Us
Chips Will Fly
Take the Cow
Hammurabi and After
Hugs for Humanity
Truth and Fiction
The Prince's Feet, Not to Mention Other Body Parts
The Female Pharaoh
The End of the World in Plural
The Nut and the Gilded Shell
Let Me Take This Occasion
A Word on Nakedness
In Relaxation's Clutches
The Piano and the Rhinoceros
Ten Minutes of Solitude
A Bad Little Boy
Blocks and Blockheads
In Praise of Questions
The Cardboard-Eating Cadaver