sprite writes
broodings from the burrow

February 2, 2012

‘nothing twice’ by winslawa szymborska
posted by soe 7:18 pm

Today is the seventh annual Bloggers’ (Silent) Poetry Reading in honor of St. Brigid, patron saint of poetry. Although I can’t seem to find a central organizer this year to link back to, I still wanted to offer up a contribution.

This year, I chose a poem by Nobel Prize winner Wislawa Szymborska, who died yesterday. Her poetry is widely available in translation and is easily accessible to those who might have their doubts about the lyrical form.

This particular poem was translated by Clare Cavanagh and Stanislaw Baranczak.

Nothing Twice

Nothing can ever happen twice.
In consequence, the sorry fact is
that we arrive here improvised
and leave without the chance to practice.

Even if there is no one dumber,
if you’re the planet’s biggest dunce,
you can’t repeat the class in summer:
this course is only offered once.

No day copies yesterday,
no two nights will teach what bliss is
in precisely the same way,
with precisely the same kisses.

One day, perhaps some idle tongue
mentions your name by accident:
I feel as if a rose were flung
into the room, all hue and scent.

The next day, though you’re here with me,
I can’t help looking at the clock:
A rose? A rose? What could that be?
Is it a flower or a rock?

Why do we treat the fleeting day
with so much needless fear and sorrow?
It’s in its nature not to stay:
Today is always gone tomorrow.

With smiles and kisses, we prefer
to seek accord beneath our star,
although we’re different (we concur)
just as two drops of water are.


I also recommend “Pi,” which I may break out in celebration of the day next month.

Feel free to participate on your own blog or Facebook page (or, if you like haiku or other short poems, Twitter) or to add a poem of your own choosing in my comments if you don’t have an online space you call your own.

My previous years of participation in this event have brought us poems by Stuart Dischell, Jean Esteve, John Frederick Nims, Mary Oliver, Grace Paley, Heather McHugh, and Barbara Hamby, all of which are worth a re-read should you be so inclined.

Category: arts. There is/are 3 Comments.

What a lovely and true poem, from a poet I’d never heard of before – thanks!

Comment by MJ 02.02.12 @ 7:44 pm

Oh! I quite like that!

Comment by jenn 02.03.12 @ 7:16 am

@jenn: I love poetry and really ought to read more.

@MJ: You’re welcome!

Comment by soe 02.27.12 @ 2:12 am