Wislawa Szymborska’s Parable

I read today of Ms. Szymborska’s passing at age 88 in Krakow, Poland. As a tribute, I repost this entry from August 2011.

I have a book of her poetry, given to me by my poet daughter, that I treasure. It’s one of only four books that I keep in a special place: on top of my toilet. I keep it there so that I could read it often. I’m sure Ms. Szymborska would be OK with that.

Godspeed, dear poet! Poland and the rest of the world will miss you — but we have your poems. . .

Some fishermen pulled a bottle from the deep. In it was a scrap of paper, on which were written the words: “Someone, save me! Here I am. The ocean has cast me up on a desert island. I am standing on the shore waiting for help. Hurry. Here I am!”

“There is no date. Surely it is too late by now. The bottle could have been floating in the sea a long time,” said the first fisherman.

“And the place is not indicated. We do not even know which ocean,” said the second fisherman.

“It is neither too late nor too far. The island called Here is everywhere,” said the third fisherman.

They all felt uneasy. A silence fell. So it is with universal truths.

Wislawa Szymborska, From Sól (Salt) 1962

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