Wisława Szymborska

Nobel Prize in Literature 1996


  • Foraminifera

    from “Here: new poems” Translated from Polish by Clare Cavanagh and Stanislaw Baranczak. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company, 2010.

    Well then, let's take the Foraminifera.

    They lived, since they were, and were, since they lived.

    They did what they could since they were able.

    In the plural since the plural,

    although each one on its own,

    in its own, since in its own

    small limestone shell.

    Time summarized them later
    in layers, since layers,

    without going into details,

    since there's pity in the details.

    And so I have before me

    two views in one:

    a mournful cemetery made
    of tiny eternal rests

    rising from the sea,

    the azure sea, dazzling white cliffs,

    cliffs that are here because they are.