1 February 2012 Wisława Szymborska dies
Wisława Szymborska passed away in her sleep last night in her apartment in Krakow. The Noble Prize winner had been ill for several months and had undergone a serious operation in November. The sad news was confirmed by her personal secretary, Michał Rusinek.
Wisława Szymborska was gravely ill and shunned public appearances in the few past years. One of her last poetry readings took place in 2009 in Krakow; the poet met with her readers to promote her latest volume, Here, and recited a couple of poems. The meeting was very moving.
Szymborska was born on 2nd July 1923 in the Wielkopolska Region, but her family later relocated to Krakow. She made her debut as a poet in March 1945 with the poem I Am Looking for the Word, which appeared in a local daily newspaper, Dziennik Polski. Her first published volume of poetry, That's What We Live For, came out in 1952.
However, critics say that her true debut was a book of poetry entitled Calling Out to Yeti, published a few years later. It is in this volume that the distinguishing features of her poetics - the aphoristic style and the use of paradox as the primary rhetorical figure - first become visible. Szymborska published no more than 350 poems. Her last book of poetry, Here, came out in 2009.
Tomorrow (2nd February), from 12 pm onwards, residents of Krakow will have the opportunity to sign the public condolence book placed in the Stone Hall of the Krakow City Office (pl. Wszystkich Świętych 3-4).
Public buildings, as well as municipal trams and buses, will be draped with funeral palls.
"Here lies, old-fashioned as parentheses,
The authoress of verse. Eternal rest
was granted her by earth, although the corpse
had failed to join the avant-garde, of course.
The plain grave? There's poetic justice in it,
this ditty-dirge, the owl, the meek cornflower.
Passerby, take your PC out, press "POWER",
Think on Szymborska's fate for half a minute."
/translated by Stanisław Barańczak and Clare Cavanagh/