24 September 2015

Poetry Thursday - Vermeer by Wislawa Szymborska

So long as that woman from the Rijksmuseum
in painted quiet and concentration
keeps pouring milk day after day
from the pitcher to the bowl
the World hasn't earned
the world's end.

"Vermeer", Wislawa Szymborska, translated from the Polish by Clare Cavanagh and Stanislaw Baranczak

The shape of the poem is like a stream of milk pouring itself out, says this reviewer.

I encountered it in Ali Smith's "Artful",winner of the Foyles/Bristol Festival of Ideas Prize 2013, a book with poems (and their permissions)  and longer quotes and a section of pictures - hence also picture credits - "both heartfelt fiction concerning a character haunted by a dead lover and dazzling essays on literature and art".

Wisława Szymborska[ (1923 – 2012) was a Polish poet, essayist, and translator; she received the 1996 Nobel Prize in Literature and is described as a Mozart of poetry. She lived most of her life in Kraków. In Poland, Szymborska's books sell as well as prominent prose authors, but she once remarked in a poem, "Some Like Poetry", that no more than two out of a thousand people care for the art.

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