Under One Small Star

My apologies to chance for calling it necessity.
My apologies to necessity if I'm mistaken, after all.
Please, don't be angry, happiness, that I take you as my due.
May my dead be patient with the way my memories fade.
My apologies to time for all the world I overlook each second.
My apologies to past loves for thinking that the latest is the first.
Forgive me, distant wars, for bringing flowers home.
Forgive me, open wounds, for pricking my finger.
I apologize for my record of minuets to those who cry from the depths.
I apologize to those who wait in railway stations for being asleep today at five a.m.
Pardon me, hounded hope, for laughing from time to time.
Pardon me, deserts, that I don't rush to you bearing a spoonful of water.
And you, falcon, unchanging year after year, always in the same cage,
your gaze always fixed on the same point in space,
forgive me, even if it turns out you were stuffed.
My apologies to the felled tree for the table's four legs.
My apologies to great questions for small answers.
Truth, please don't pay me much attention.
Dignity, please be magnanimous.
Bear with me, O mystery of existence, as I pluck the occasional thread from your train.
Soul, don't take offense that I've only got you now and then.
My apologies to everything that I can't be everywhere at once.
My apologies to everyone that I can't be each woman and each man.
I know I won't be justified as long as I live,
since I myself stand in my own way.
Don't bear me ill will, speech, that I borrow weighty words,
then labor heavily so that they may seem light.

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Hnnhbiie30's picture

Under One Small Star" by Wislawa Szymborska

In Wislawa Szymborska's poem "Under One Small Star," readers are taken on a journey of introspection and apology, as the speaker reflects on the intricacies of life and the world around them. Through a series of heartfelt apologies, Szymborska crafts a profound meditation on the human condition, urging readers to contemplate their existence and relationships with the world.
The poem begins with a humble acknowledgment of the speaker's limitations and fallibility: "My apologies to chance for calling it necessity." This opening line sets the tone for the rest of the poem, as the speaker expresses regret and asks for forgiveness from various entities and concepts, including happiness, time, past loves, and even truth itself.
One of the most striking aspects of the poem is Szymborska's ability to convey complex emotions and ideas with simple language. Each apology is a miniature reflection on the human experience, from the fleeting nature of happiness to the weight of past mistakes and missed opportunities. The speaker's apologies to "distant wars" and "open wounds" speak to the universal themes of guilt and responsibility, while their apologies to "the felled tree" and "great questions" touch on broader existential concerns.
Throughout the poem, Szymborska grapples with the paradoxes of human existence, acknowledging both the limitations of individual perspective and the interconnectedness of all things. The speaker's apologies for "everything that I can't be everywhere at once" and "everyone that I can't be each woman and each man" highlight the inherent constraints of human experience, while also emphasizing the importance of empathy and understanding.
Despite its somber undertones, "Under One Small Star" is ultimately a poem of hope and reconciliation. Through their apologies, the speaker seeks to make amends for their shortcomings and embrace the mysteries of existence with humility and grace. Szymborska's use of repetition and understatement lends the poem a sense of quiet introspection, inviting readers to pause and reflect on their own lives and relationships.
In conclusion, "Under One Small Star" by Wislawa Szymborska is a poignant exploration of the human condition and our place in the world. Through its sincere apologies and profound insights, the poem challenges readers to confront their shortcomings and embrace the complexities of life with compassion and understanding. Szymborska's timeless wisdom and lyrical prose make this poem a powerful reminder of the beauty and fragility of the human experience.

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Howard Freya's picture

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