Friday, May 02, 2008

POETRY FRIDAY: Consolation by Wislawa Szymborska

It’s a busy time of year for me--end of semester. Earlier this week I spent many hours correcting my students’ final projects. Now I have to set about calculating course grades--not my favorite part of teaching.

I thought I would treat myself this Poetry Friday to a poem that was written by one of my favorite poets, Wislawa Szymborska.

by Wislawa Szymborska
(Translated by Clare Cavanagh & Stanislaw Barańczak)

They say he read novels to relax,
But only certain kinds:
nothing that ended unhappily.
If anything like that turned up,
enraged, he flung the book into the fire.

True or not,
I’m ready to believe it.

Scanning in his mind so many times and places,
he’d had enough of dying species,
the triumphs of the strong over the weak,
the endless struggles to survive,
all doomed sooner or later.
He’d earned the right to happy endings,
at least in fiction
with its diminutions.

You can read the rest of the poem here.

At Wild Rose Reader , I have Why Nobody Pets the Lion at the Zoo, a humorous children’s poem by John Ciardi.

Kelly has the Poetry Friday Roundup at Big A, little a.


Tricia said...

Love this poem.

I am right there with you on the grading. I love reviewing final projects, and am generally so excited about what I receive and proud of my students. However, all this nitty-gritty number stuff is not fun.

I still have a LONG way to go. I hope you're close to the end.

tanita✿davis said...

Oh, Elaine, that is beautiful -- and my big old sentimental soul gives a big sniffle. I love a happy ending when the dog returns as well, and I think I'll have to dig out some of this gents other poems. Lovely.

tanita✿davis said...

(Oops. I meant 'this LADY's other poems. I'm terrible at figuring out gender through Polish names. Mea culpa!)

Elaine Magliaro said...


I'll be working on grades over the weekend. I enjoyed reading my students' final projects--themed poetry anthologies!


You can sometimes tell the gender by a person's last name in Polish.
Szymborska ends with ska. If she were a man, it would end with ski.

I just came across this poem last night. I think it may have been a recent addition to her page at the Poetry Foundation.

jama said...

What a fabulous poem. Thanks for the "ska" and "ski" tip,too!

Andromeda Jazmon said...

This is a new one to me. It's a little sad that the happiness is only in fiction. I wonder if Darwin really felt that way. I always thought he found joy in nature. Maybe I haven't studied enough but I like to think of him that way anyway.

End of year projects are still in the flurry of computing around here. I am glad I don't have to grade them. Scheduling them in the media center is enough to put me under!

Mary Lee said...

Call me nuts -- we are just STARTING a final project in my room!

Loved the poem. Glad that for once that the dog didn't die!

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Elaine Magliaro said...


It is a great poem. I've posted a number of Szymborska's poems at Blue Rose Girls and at Wild Rose Reader.

Cloudscome & Mary Lee,

I used to spend the last three months of school working with my students on an animal unit during which time they learned how to take notes, wrote and illustrated research reports, wrote animal poems, designed book covers, etc. During the last week of school, we invited parents to come to our classroom for Animal Expert Day. It was a ton of work for me...but I loved doing it. The kids learned a lot from the step-by-step research process they followed--and their parents were thrilled to see what their young children had accomplished during their final months in my class.