The first poem I have come across of the late Polish poet and recipient of the 1996 Nobel Prize in Literature, Maria Wisława Anna Szymborska, (1923-2012) is the enthralling: The Joy of Writing. For weeks after, I keep seeing a doe running through a maze of words in my mind.
I count this poem as one of the best poems I have read or perhaps will ever read in this lifetime. I first read it sometime in 1998 and somehow, while alone in the house this afternoon, I was reminded of it. And I took the time to read it again and decided that as it is one of my favorite poems for all time, it should occupy a space here in my blog. Perhaps, in time, I might attempt to translate it in Cebuano.
Here is the poem:
The Joy Of Writing
Why does this written doe bound through these written woods?
For a drink of written water from a spring
whose surface will xerox her soft muzzle?
Why does she lift her head; does she hear something?
Perched on four slim legs borrowed from the truth,
she pricks up her ears beneath my fingertips.
Silence – this word also rustles across the page
and parts the boughs
that have sprouted from the word ‘woods.’
Lying in wait, set to pounce on the blank page,
are letters up to no good,
clutches of clauses so subordinate
they’ll never let her get away.
Each drop of ink contains a fair supply
of hunters, equipped with squinting eyes behind their sights,
prepared to swarm the sloping pen at any moment,
surround the doe, and slowly aim their guns.
They forget that what’s here isn’t life.
Other laws, black on white, obtain.
The twinkling of an eye will take as long as I say,
and will, if I wish, divide into tiny eternities,
full of bullets stopped in mid-flight.
Not a thing will ever happen unless I say so.
Without my blessing, not a leaf will fall,
not a blade of grass will bend beneath that little hoof’s full stop.
Is there then a world
where I rule absolutely on fate?
A time I bind with chains of signs?
An existence become endless at my bidding?
The joy of writing.
The power of preserving.
Revenge of a mortal hand.