Wislawa Szymborska


Wislawa Szymborska
(1923)


Polish poet who explored philosophical, moral, and ethical issues with intelligence and empathy. In 1996 she received the Nobel Prize for Literature.
Szymborska moved to Krakow in 1931 and studied literature and sociology at the Jagiellonian University there between 1945 and 1948. Her first published poem, "Szukam slowa" ("I Seek the Word"), appeared in a Krakow newspaper in March 1945. Her first volume of poetry, Dlatego zyjemy (1952; "That's Why We Are Alive"), was an attempt to conform to Socialist Realism, the officially approved literary style of Poland's communist regime. In 1953 she joined the editorial staff of Zycie Literackie ("Literary Life"), a weekly magazine of intellectual interests, and remained there until 1981. During this period she gained a reputation not only as a poet but also as a book reviewer and translator of French poetry. In the 1980s she wrote for the underground press under the pseudonym Stancykowna and for a magazine in Paris.

Between 1952 and 1993 Szymborska published more than a dozen volumes of poetry. She later disowned the first two volumes, which contain poems in the style of Socialist Realism, as not indicative of her true poetic intentions. Her third volume, Wolanie do Yeti (1957; "Calling Out to Yeti"), marked a clear shift to a more personal style of poetry and expressed her dissatisfaction with communism (Stalinism in particular). Subsequent volumes, such as Sol (1962; "Salt"), Sto pociech (1967; "No End of Fun"), and Wszelki wypadek (1972; "Could Have"), contain poems noteworthy for their precise and concrete language and their ironic detachment. A selection of her poems was translated into English and published in 1995 under the title View with a Grain of Sand.



 


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