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Friday, November 26, 2010

A Few Words on the Soul

(The Edge of the Soupoi River by Michel Kotchoubey,
1816-1864, Russian photographer )

Most of every-day life is mundane but there are fleeting moments when we glimpse the possibility that we may be more than merely mortal.


We have a soul at times.
No one’s got it non-stop,
for keeps.

Day after day,
year after year
may pass without it.

it will settle for awhile
only in childhood’s fears and raptures.
Sometimes only in astonishment
that we are old.

It rarely lends a hand
in uphill tasks,
like moving furniture,
or lifting luggage,
or going miles in shoes that pinch.

It usually steps out
whenever meat needs chopping
or forms have to be filled.

For every thousand conversations
it participates in one,
if even that,
since it prefers silence.

Just when our body goes from ache to pain,
it slips off-duty.

It’s picky:
it doesn’t like seeing us in crowds,
our hustling for a dubious advantage
and creaky machinations make it sick.

Joy and sorrow
aren’t two different feelings for it.
It attends us
only when the two are joined.

We can count on it
when we’re sure of nothing
and curious about everything.

Among the material objects
it favors clocks with pendulums
and mirrors, which keep on working
even when no one is looking.

It won’t say where it comes from
or when it’s taking off again,
though it’s clearly expecting such questions.

We need it
but apparently
it needs us
for some reason too.

~ Wislawa Szymborska, born 1923, Polish poet and winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1996

1 comment:

closerocean said...

Hello, Wislawa Szymborska is the best! She is the master of profundity and simplicity. I actually was so inspired by her that I decided to write an entire album of pop/rock songs based loosely on her poetry. You can check it out here:

Thanks! -Kevin