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Map: Collected and Last Poems

4.54  ·  Rating Details ·  129 Ratings  ·  16 Reviews
A new collected volume from the Nobel Prize–winning poet that includes, for the first time in English, all of the poems from her last Polish collection

One of Europe’s greatest recent poets is also its wisest, wittiest, and most accessible. Nobel Prize–winner Wislawa Szymborska draws us in with her unexpected, unassuming humor. Her elegant, precise poems pose questions we n
Hardcover, 464 pages
Published April 7th 2015 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
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Wislawa is a kindred soul in that she views the world askance and deeply understands its ironies. Where she veers from other poets is her gentle amusement with it all. Maybe she feels bitter, sarcastic, angry, etc., but she keeps it under wraps and instead couples irony with charm, an appealingly odd couple indeed. She has a knack for comparisons, too. What's metaphor? Quite a bit, in Wislawa's view.

The collection gets stronger over time, with very few works chosen from early collections. This i
Oct 26, 2015 Giedre rated it really liked it

I don't love all of the poems collected here. I don't think all of them are equally strong. I do love most of them. I even have a soft spot for the weaker ones. There is a lightness to Szymborska's poems, even the darker, more serious ones, that just captivates me. There is humour when all you're expecting is rage. That's Szymborska for you—she dances to her own tune. I rather love that about her.
Michael Feehly
May 14, 2015 Michael Feehly rated it it was amazing
Wonderful poems full of humor and wisdom. Szymborska is a master class in the art of repetition of lines within her poems, recycling and refusing to let a single thought slip through her fingers without total examination.
Hannah Notess
Jan 01, 2016 Hannah Notess rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry, translated
Honestly I never get tired of these poems. I read them again and again. I have dog-eared so many pages in this collection. I feel very lucky just to be able to hold this book in my hands.
Oct 04, 2016 Rick rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
Szymborska should have as many readers as Beyonce has listeners, as the Super Bowl has viewers, as a Kardashian has Twitter followers. No knock on any of them but the wit, wisdom, beauty, and subtle power of Szymborska’s poetry deserves not just a global poetry audience but a global audience period. And over time she will have that, but she deserved such a readership in her lifetime, and, more importantly, we could all benefit from her work now and needn’t wait any longer to engage with this ...more
Parrish Lantern
In the introduction to "Sounds, Feelings, Thoughts" the translators* state that "Wisława Szymborska is that rarest of phenomena: a serious poet who commands a large audience in her native land", they also go on to say that as well as this she has the additional ability to get critics who otherwise would delight in disagreement to be consistently enthusiastic about her work. Although she was well-known in her homeland of Poland, it wasn't until she won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1996 that ...more
Temple Cone
Nov 26, 2016 Temple Cone rated it it was amazing
In his short story “On Exactitude in Science,” Jorge Luis Borges imagines a guild of Renaissance cartographers so committed to precision that they created a 1:1 scale map where “the kingdom was the size of the kingdom.” Later cartographers found such obsessiveness absurd and destroyed the map, but its fragments littered the realm, “providing shelter for beggars and animals.” In the title poem of her collection Map: Collected and Last Poems, Wislawa Szymborska writes:

I like maps, because they lie
May 01, 2015 Coco rated it really liked it
Great collection of poems including my favorite Symborska:
Notes from a Nonexistent Himalayan Expedition, Four A.M.;
Parable, Ballad, Over Wine, Dream, Conversation with a Stone;
Soliloquy for Cassandra;
Advertisement, Discovery, In Praise of Dreams, Under One Small Star;
Thank-You Note, Possibilities; A Note, List;
and new gems like Someone I've Been Watching for a While and Hand.
Roger Brunyate
Jun 12, 2016 Roger Brunyate rated it it was amazing
Poems of a Lifetime

It turns out that I already owned a Szymborska anthology, in a bilingual edition from 1981 with translations by Robert A. Maguire, that my father-in-law brought back from Poland. I am ashamed to say I never read it, put off by the cheap Soviet-era printing and a vague sense that the poet would probably be "important," but not enjoyable. Big mistake! As this new collection proves, Szymborska is thoroughly entertaining throughout, at times even hilarious. Her importance is confi
Antonio Delgado
Oct 17, 2016 Antonio Delgado rated it it was amazing
The pain and anguish of the twentieth century enter into human thoughts, Szymborska’s poetry, without falling into the vertigo of existence. The void, and nothingness and what makes us human have never been so pleasant to read than in the words of one of the greatest poets.
Sep 28, 2016 Kerry added it
While it's interesting to see a poet develop over many years--and the poems do improve over time--their literalness, and the constant allusion to classic themes, art, or Shakespeare (and monkeys--why monkeys?) grows old. In short, these poems are not for me, though probably something has been lost in translation, and the efforts to make the rhyming poetry rhyme in English certainly detract from their impact.
May 30, 2016 astried marked it as those_that_do_not_end
I wished only that it was printed in hardcover pocket size with the thinnest yet strongest onion paper so I can carry it every I go like a life companion.

Why would I grade with star something priceless?
World Literature Today
One of four Editor's picks from WLT's Digital Media Editor Jen Rickard Blair. Read her thoughts on all four at
Apr 29, 2016 Marla rated it really liked it
This poet's work fascinates me. I'm sure I will be attempting to understand her for the rest of my life. Poetry is not my strong suit, but I won't give up.
Jennifer Louden
Sly, surprising, deeply intelligent, Symborska's way of seeing the world rarely less than astonishes me.
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Wisława Szymborska (Polish pronunciation: [vʲisˈwava ʂɨmˈbɔrska], born July 2, 1923 in Kórnik, Poland) is a Polish poet, essayist and translator. She was awarded the 1996 Nobel Prize in Literature. In Poland, her books reach sales rivaling prominent prose authors—although she once remarked in a poem entitled "Some like poetry" [Niektórzy lubią poezję] that no more than two out of a thousand people ...more
More about Wisława Szymborska...

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“We know ourselves only as far as we’ve been tested.” 6 likes
“Life While-You-Wait.
Performance without rehearsal.
Body without alterations.
Head without premeditation.
I know nothing of the role I play.
I only know it’s mine. I can’t exchange it.
I have to guess on the spot
just what this play’s all about.
Ill-prepared for the privilege of living,
I can barely keep up with the pace that the action demands.
I improvise, although I loathe improvisation.
I trip at every step over my own ignorance.
I can’t conceal my hayseed manners.
My instincts are for happy histrionics.
Stage fright makes excuses for me, which humiliate me more.
Extenuating circumstances strike me as cruel.
Words and impulses you can’t take back,
stars you’ll never get counted,
your character like a raincoat you button on the run —
the pitiful results of all this unexpectedness.
If only I could just rehearse one Wednesday in advance,
or repeat a single Thursday that has passed!
But here comes Friday with a script I haven’t seen.
Is it fair, I ask
(my voice a little hoarse,
since I couldn’t even clear my throat offstage).
You’d be wrong to think that it’s just a slapdash quiz
taken in makeshift accommodations. Oh no.
I’m standing on the set and I see how strong it is.
The props are surprisingly precise.
The machine rotating the stage has been around even longer.
The farthest galaxies have been turned on.
Oh no, there’s no question, this must be the premiere.
And whatever I do
will become forever what I’ve done.”
More quotes…