The Example

Poetry Wislawa Szymborska

This will be my third and final post on Polish Nobel Laureate Wislawa Szymborska, featuring pictures of her work framed by rural scenes from Colombia’s eastern plains. The poem in the photograph is about examples and is itself a clear example of why Szymborska is a master. Please click here and here to read the first and second posts, respectively.

Simple poetry, when it is done right, is like the swift movement of a very sharp knife. It is elegant, terrifying and makes a cut without leaving a mess.

Below is the text of the poem, as translated by Clare Cavanagh and Stanislaw Baranczak.



A gale

stripped of all the leaves from the trees last night

except for one leaf


to sway solo on a naked branch.


With this example

Violence demonstrates

that yes of course —

it likes its little jokes from time to time.


Read Casanare, Colombia 2014

– Ana Maria Caballero, Editor of “Zeteo is Reading” 

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