Wislawa Szymborska  was born in Poland (1923). When she won the Nobel Prize in literature in 1996, few people outside of Poland had ever heard of her. Her first poems were published in the Krakov newspaper, and for almost 20 years she edited a weekly column for the journal Literary Life, for which she also wrote scores of book reviews, as well as translations of French poetry. Her early poems dealt with the horrors of World War II and of the Stalin era. Her later poems are more personal, and her work is celebrated for its candor and gentle humor. When she accepted the Nobel Prize, she said: “They say the first sentence in any speech is always the hardest. Well, that one’s behind me, anyway.

“Possibilities – Poem by Wislawa Szymborska
I prefer movies.
I prefer cats.
I prefer the oaks along the Warta.
I prefer Dickens to Dostoyevsky.
I prefer myself liking people
to myself loving mankind.
I prefer keeping a needle and thread on hand, just in case.
I prefer the color green.
I prefer not to maintain
that reason is to blame for everything.
I prefer exceptions.
I prefer to leave early.
I prefer talking to doctors about something else.
I prefer the old fine-lined illustrations.
I prefer the absurdity of writing poems
to the absurdity of not writing poems.
I prefer, where love’s concerned, nonspecific anniversaries
that can be celebrated every day.
I prefer moralists
who promise me nothing.
I prefer cunning kindness to the over-trustful kind.
I prefer the earth in civvies.
I prefer conquered to conquering countries.
I prefer having some reservations.
I prefer the hell of chaos to the hell of order.
I prefer Grimms’ fairy tales to the newspapers’ front pages.
I prefer leaves without flowers to flowers without leaves.
I prefer dogs with uncropped tails.
I prefer light eyes, since mine are dark.
I prefer desk drawers.
I prefer many things that I haven’t mentioned here
to many things I’ve also left unsaid.
I prefer zeroes on the loose
to those lined up behind a cipher.
I prefer the time of insects to the time of stars.
I prefer to knock on wood.
I prefer not to ask how much longer and when.
I prefer keeping in mind even the possibility
that existence has its own reason for being.




About Bernadette

I live in the small town of Haddonfield, NJ. I am at an age in my life when I seem to spend time thinking and musing about life. These musings are usually stimulated by my walks through Haddonfield, my reading of books and fellow bloggers, and my interaction with my group of fabulous family and friends.

11 Responses

  1. I am so happy to meet Wislawa here. Finally. I’m ashamed I never heard of her, but I know it’s not for lack of wanting to know; it’s lack of never hearing about the REALLY important people out there. The people – poets, writers, artists – who are too busy living and being and loving to make it in the media. Anyway, I’m going to share her poem here with my creative writing class and assign each of us to write a poem in which each line begins: I prefer.
    I prefer blogs like yours that highlight talent like Wislawa! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person


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