Skip to content

Reflections of a working writer and reader



The Joy of Writing by Wislawa Szymborska

The Joy Of Writing

Why does this written doe bound through these written woods?
For a drink of written water from a spring
whose surface will xerox her soft muzzle?
Why does she lift her head; does she hear something?
Perched on four slim legs borrowed from the truth,
she pricks up her ears beneath my fingertips.
Silence – this word also rustles across the page
and parts the boughs
that have sprouted from the word “woods.”

Lying in wait, set to pounce on the blank page,
are letters up to no good,
clutches of clauses so subordinate
they’ll never let her get away.

Each drop of ink contains a fair supply
of hunters, equipped with squinting eyes behind their sights,
prepared to swarm the sloping pen at any moment,
surround the doe, and slowly aim their guns.

They forget that what’s here isn’t life.
Other laws, black on white, obtain.
The twinkling of an eye will take as long as I say,
and will, if I wish, divide into tiny eternities,
full of bullets stopped in mid-flight.
Not a thing will ever happen unless I say so.
Without my blessing, not a leaf will fall,
not a blade of grass will bend beneath that little hoof’s full stop.

Is there then a world
where I rule absolutely on fate?
A time I bind with chains of signs?
An existence become endless at my bidding?

The joy of writing.
The power of preserving.
Revenge of a mortal hand.

Translated by S. Baranczak & C. Cavanagh
Copyright © Wislawa Szymborska, S. Baranczak & C. Cavanagh

4 Responses to “The Joy of Writing by Wislawa Szymborska”

  1. Natalia says:

    Love this poem! The last lines are so powerful, too. That’s how I feel about writing–it’s a weapon of the imagination and we are its rulers. Wonderful writing–I look forward to reading future posts.

    jb says: I found it irresistible.

  2. […] Saved by kabuto777 on Sun 23-11-2008 wislawa szymborska Saved by buttergod on Sun 16-11-2008 The Joy of Writing by Wislawa Szymborska Saved by sime59 on Mon 10-11-2008 Wislawa Szymborska Saved by voegie on Tue 04-11-2008 Wislawa […]

  3. Tarot Reading says:

    Hey ya! very good poetry.. Am a person who have great interests in poetry and expressing through poems.. Am very fond of poetry and you have got great skills.. I loved your poem!

  4. Rodolfo Piskorski says:

    But I wonder if the last lines really are a statement of the power of writing. The three questions before it make it sound very hesitant. I believe the poem is wondering about the power of writing, not stating. It’s not clear at all if there is such a power. After all, the poem even starts with questions. Writing has no power over the doe, which may be written but is an inhuman force which will do as it pleases.