February 6, 2012 | by Lorin Stein
Last week Wisława Szymborska died in Kraków at the age of eighty-eight. Szymborska received the Nobel Prize in 1996 and was Poland’s best-loved living poet. Her poem “Negative” appeared in issue 144 of The Paris Review, translated by Joanna Trzeciak:
In the dun-colored sky
A cloud even more dun-colored
With the black outline of the sun.
To the left, that is, to the right
A white cherry branch with black flowers.
On your dark face, light shadows.
You have sat down at a small table
And laid your grayed hands on it.
You give the impression of a ghost
Who attempts to summon the living.
(Because I'm still counted among them,
I should appear and knock:
Good night, that is, good morning,
Farewell, that is, hello.
Not being stingy with questions to any answer
If they concern life,
That is, the storm before the calm.)