Tuesday, June 30, 2009

“The Suicide’s Room”
Wislawa Szymborska
1923- Polish
translated by Magnus J. Krynski and Robert A. Maguire

You certainly think that the room was empty.
Yet it had three chairs with sturdy backs.
And a lamp effective against the dark.
A desk, on the desk a wallet, some newspapers.
An unsorrowful Buddha, a sorrowful Jesus.
Seven good-luck elephants, and in a drawer a notebook.
You think that our addresses were not there?

You think there were no books, pictures, records?
But there was a consoling trumpet in black hands.
Saskia with a heartfelt flower of love.
Joy the fair spark of the gods.
Odysseus on the shelf in life-giving sleep
after the labors of Book Five.
their names imprinted in syllables of gold
on beautifully tanned spines.
Right next, statesmen standing straight.

And not without a way out, if only through the door,
not without prospects, if only through the window,
that is how the room looked.
Distance glasses lay on the windowsill.
A single fly buzzed, that is, was still alive.

You think at least the note made something clear.
Now what if I tell you that there was no note --
and so many of us, friends of his, yet all could fit
in the empty envelope propped against the glass.

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