japonisme: reflection

31 May 2008



We have a soul at times.
No one's got it non-stop,
for keeps.

Day after day,
year after year
may pass without it.

it will settle for awhile
only in childhood's fears and raptures.
Sometimes only in astonishment
that we are old.

It rarely lends a hand
in uphill tasks,
like moving furniture,
or lifting luggage,
or going miles in shoes that pinch.

It usually steps out
whenever meat needs chopping
or forms have to be filled.

For every thousand conversations
it participates in one,
if even that,
since it prefers silence.

Just when our body goes from ache to pain,
it slips off-duty.

It's picky:
it doesn't like seeing us in crowds,
our hustling for a dubious advantage
and creaky machinations make it sick.

Joy and sorrow
aren't two different feelings for it.
It attends us
only when the two are joined.

We can count on it
when we're sure of nothing
and curious about everything.

Among the material objects
it favors clocks with pendulums
and mirrors, which keep on working
even when no one is looking.

It won't say where it comes from
or when it's taking off again,
though it's clearly expecting such questions.

We need it
but apparently
it needs us
for some reason too.

Wislawa Szymborska

Translated from the Polish by Stanislaw Baranczak and Clare Cavanagh

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Blogger cbb said...

Oh, Lotus Green, I did not know that poem, and I am floored. Thank you so much. It will become one of my "keepers." Do you also know her poem "Autotomy"? I mentioned it in my 2-27-08 post. Here's a link to it:


And I wanted to mention I left you a response on my blog comments, but then I belatedly realized I wrote about Robert and that you had written about him in the past tense. I apologize for not having read carefully enough in the first place.


01 June, 2008 04:03  
Blogger here today, gone tomorrow said...

Perfection. I save up for visits here because they feel sacred.

01 June, 2008 05:38  
Blogger lotusgreen said...

cynth--wow! that is an amazing poem--thank you!

and i took it to mean warmth, and that's good.

01 June, 2008 11:41  
Blogger lotusgreen said...


oh sweetie--how deeply you touch my heart.

01 June, 2008 11:45  
Blogger Roxana said...

whenever I come here after some days of absence, there are so many truly beautiful words and paintings that I am overwhelmed... and my soul becomes peaceful and silent...

01 June, 2008 14:34  
Blogger Roxana said...

and these mirrors have made me crazy!!!!

01 June, 2008 14:36  
Blogger lotusgreen said...


01 June, 2008 16:23  
Blogger Roxana said...

why? is it not obvious? :-) because they are so stunningly beautiful and also because it just happened that I was thinking a lot about mirrors and the soul reflected in them these past days... so it touched me so very much.

02 June, 2008 00:34  

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hi, and thanks so much for stopping by. i spend all too much time thinking my own thoughts about this stuff, so please tell me yours. i thrive on the exchange!

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