Friday, January 30, 2009

Children of Our Era by Wislawa Szymborska

It’s been hard to ignore politics—especially in recent months. Then again, I guess everything and every era is rife with politics. Here is another poem by Wislawa Szymborska—one of my favorite poets.

Children of Our Era

by Wislawa Szymborska

Translated by Joanna Trzeciak

We are children of our era;

our era is political.

All affairs, day and night,

yours, ours, theirs,

are political affairs.

Like it or not,

your genes have a political past,

your skin a political cast,

your eyes a political aspect.

What you say has a resonance;

what you are silent about is telling.

Either way, it's political.

Even when you head for the hills

you're taking political steps

on political ground.

Even apolitical poems are political,

and above us shines the moon,

by now no longer lunar.

To be or not to be, that is the question.

You can read the rest of the poem here.

Here is another stanza from the poem that I’d like to point out because it resonated with me. It brought back a memory of the 1970s and the discussions that took place prior to the negotiations that were held in hopes of bringing the Vietnam War to an end.

Or even a conference table whose shape

was disputed for months:

should we negotiate life and death

at a round table or a square one?

Now read the following excerpt from a 1977 interview in U.S. News & World Report.
When I think back to the Vietnam negotiations, and of the many months that we spent arguing about the shape of a table, about the speaking order, about whether there would be flags or not, when all the time killing was going on, it has left a rather deep scar.

Here’s a link to the interview: Interview with Secretary of State Vance in U.S. News & World Report, 7 November 1977


At Wild Rose Reader, I have some winter-themed original poems.

The Poetry Friday Roundup is at Adventures in Daily Living.


Yat-Yee said...

I've never wanted to be too political but

"What you say has a resonance;

what you are silent about is telling.

Either way, it's political"

So true.

Elaine Magliaro said...


I agree with the lines you pointed out being so true. I think Szymborska is a brillaint poet--one who uses common language to make her point.

Anonymous said...

Gotta love Szymborska. Thanks for sharing this poem today, Elaine.

Elaine Magliaro said...


I DO love Szymborska's poetry! She's one of the greats--well desrving of a Nobel Prize for Literature