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Saturday, April 02, 2005

Sky (Wislawa Szymborska)

An untitled audiopost should be showing up sometime in the next few hours. Once it does I'll consolidate it with this post. The poem is by Wislawa Szymborska, from View With A Grain of Sand (translated from the Polish by Stanislaw Baranczak and Claire Cavanagh). You'll find the text below.

There are poems I define as good because they get inside me in ways I don't understand (perhaps those poems are the good poems, the great poems). Sky is one of those. I know when it gets me. And I know that, paradoxically, it gets inside me in the first stanza when I fall in that hole, that "aperture," and I keep falling "from sky to sky" all the way through. I'm not sure how it gets me. And I'm not sure it matters how.

I don't what the poem's like in Polish. I don't know if the word translated as "aperture" carries the same connotations as in English; the camera's eye, the possibility, almost certainty, of both dilation and abrupt closing. But I fall in there with the feeling that there is no guarantee that I will come out again.


I should have begun with this: the sky.
A window minus sill, frame, and panes.
An aperture, nothing more,
but wide open.

I don't have to wait for a starry night,
I don't have to crane my neck
to get a look at it.
I've got the sky behind my back, at hand, and on my eyelids.
The sky binds me tight
and sweeps me off my feet.

Even the highest mountains
are no closer to the sky
than the deepest valleys.
There's no more of it in one place
than another.
A mole is no less in seventh heaven
than the owl spreading her wings.
The object that falls in an abyss
falls from sky to sky.

Grainy, gritty, liquid,
inflamed, or volatile
patches of sky, specks of sky,
gusts and heaps of sky.
The sky is everywhere,
even in the dark beneath your skin.
I eat the sky, I excrete the sky.
I'm a trap within a trap,
an inhabited inhabitant,
an embrace embraced,
a question answering a question.

Division into sky and earth —
it's not the proper way
to contemplate this wholeness.
It simply lets me go on living
at a more exact address
where I can be reached promptly
if I'm sought.
My identifying features
are rapture and despair.
update: I tried again with audioblogger. Still no go. Maybe there'll be two versions show up.
update 2: audioblogger is back up, here's my audiopost of Sky.


GM said...

Looking forward to this one, J.

MackJohnny said...

I predict it'll show up at about 1 pm EST on Sunday.

GM said...

Listen, if it doesn't work, you can just call us up one at a time and read it.


Brenda Schmidt said...

That's a great idea, G! In fact, make it a daily wake-up call. I'd like my poem at about 7 am :)

MackJohnny said...

Sure, kids. Your time zones, or mine?

Brenda Schmidt said...

Uh, 1 pm EST on which Sunday, John?

MackJohnny said...

Sunday, Julaugust 42, 6152.

Yvette said...

I loved this poem, Sky, and had never heard of this poet till you introduced her. Thanks. I especially like the final lines. They caught me all unaware, so perfect.

agappe said...

i liked this poem, but in polish - 'cause i'm from poland ;]