A Poet and a Beetle, NO, NOT RINGO!

Robert Krulwich is one of my favorites.  A wonderful writer with an eye for the small wonders of life.  So it’s no wonder that he writes of  this nobel prize winner for literature.  I share this with you in the hope that it will enrich your day as it does mine.  

Look down. Please notice. Please read. 

Two Deaths: A Poet And A Beetle

“She’d wake up like we do, look out the window just like us, rummage through her days, but somehow what caught her attention — a grasshopper’s hop, an infant’s fingernails, plankton, a snowflake — when Wislawa Szymborska noticed something, she noticed it so well, her gaze reshaped the thing she saw, gave it a dignity, a vividness.”

“She was a poet and she died this week. She was, the obits say, a modest woman. When she won the Nobel Prize for literature, she was so discombobulated by the attention, she stopped writing poetry for awhile, until the world settled down and she could be ignored again. She needed the quiet to notice the astonishing, quiet things we might see every day, if we only had her eyes.”

“She had eyes for modest creatures. One time, she was wandering down a path — in my imagination it’s a dirt path through a field somewhere in Poland where she lived. She looks down, and there, lying on its back, sits a beetle. It is dead. Nobody notices. Which is the point:”

A dead beetle lies on the path through the field.
Three pairs of legs folded neatly on its belly.
Instead of death’s confusion, tidiness and order.
The horror of this sight is moderate,
its scope is strictly local, from the wheat grass to the mint.
The grief is quarantined.
The sky is blue.

To preserve our peace of mind, animals die
more shallowly: they aren’t deceased, they’re dead.
They leave behind, we’d like to think, less feeling and less world,
departing, we suppose, from a stage less tragic.
Their meek souls never haunt us in the dark,
they know their place,
they show respect.

And so the dead beetle on the path
lies unmourned and shining in the sun.
One glance at it will do for meditation —
clearly nothing much has happened to it.
Important matters are reserved for us,
for our life and our death, a death
that always claims the right of way.

“Wislawa Szymborska’s passing is as precious as that beetle’s. No more. No less. She taught us about weight in the world. We all have it. Every last one of us”.

“Seen from Above” from Poems New and Collected: 1957-1997 by Wisława Szymborska. English translation copyright © 1998 by Harcourt, Inc. Used by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

NPR News

4 thoughts on “A Poet and a Beetle, NO, NOT RINGO!

  1. How beautiful…both the memorial, and the poem.

    She sounds like a wonderful woman, and reminds me of the Buddha. Cherish every life…notice.

    I will look up more of her work.

    (someone has become a new follower of mine and she writes beautiful poetry…I thought you might be interested in taking a look at some of it…in that small window of spare time you have. http://bipolarmuse.com )

    love and hugs
    w

    Like

    1. Wendy,
      I did check out – quickly her blog. I will re-visit. thank you!
      It is at times like this I would love to be able to read the poetry in the original. Polish is not a language that many of us speak. (My father’s side of the family were all Polish – but he didn’t speak it)

      Like

  2. Very nice, thanks for finding and sharing this. The mundane and small often escapes our attention and thoughts. In the right eyes and moment they can illuminate and enrich the larger whole.

    Like

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