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Poems New and Collected

4.42  ·  Rating details ·  2,676 ratings  ·  143 reviews
Described by Robert Hass as "unquestionably one of the great living European poets" and by Charles Simic as "one of the finest poets living today," Szymborska mesmerizes her readers with poetry that captivates their minds and captures their hearts. This is the book that her many fans have been anxiously awaiting-the definitive, complete collection of poetry by the Nobel Pr ...more
Paperback, 296 pages
Published November 16th 2000 by Mariner Books (first published January 1st 1998)
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4.42  · 
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 ·  2,676 ratings  ·  143 reviews

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Oct 16, 2011 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Poetry lovers old and new
Wisława Szymborska, the recipient of the 1996 Nobel Prize in literature, has the power to make the reader feel both insignificant and heroic simply for existing. This collection, which spans her career from 1957-97, offers a broad range of Szymborska’s talents. Her eloquent prose is direct and extremely quotable, overflowing with clever witticisms just begging you to go crazy with a highlighter through the pages, and is very accessible, making this a perfect collection for both veteran poetry f ...more
Peycho Kanev
Dec 25, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
"Whatever inspiration is, it's born from a continuous "I don't know."...That is why I value that little phrase "I don't know so highly. It's small, but it flies on mighty wings. It expands our lives to include spaces within us as well as the outer expanses in which our tiny Earth hangs suspended...Poets, if they're genuine, must always keep repeating "I don't know"(Szymborska, The Poet and the World).

This excerpt from Syzmborska's Nobel Prize Acceptance Speech describes the mission in her poetry
Mar 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
Love at First Sight

They’re both convinced
that a sudden passion joined them.
Such certainty is beautiful,
but uncertainty is more beautiful still.

Since they’d never met before, they’re sure
that there’d been nothing between them.
But what’s the word from the streets, staircases, hallwaysー
perhaps they’ve passed by each other a million times?

I want to ask them
if they don’t rememberー
a moment face to face
in some revolving door?
perhaps a “sorry” muttered in a crowd?
a curt “wrong number” caught in the rec
Aug 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Still, time’s unbounded power
that makes a mountain crumble
moves seas, rotates a star,
won’t be enough to tear lovers apart:
they are too naked, too embraced,
too much like timid sparrows

I worked to sprout leaves.
I tried to take root.
I held my breath to speed things up,
and waited for the petals to enclose me

Nothing can ever happen twice.
In consequence,
the sorry fact is that we arrive here improvised
and leave without the chance to practice

Memories come to mind like excavated sta
Jonathan Gracey
Jan 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This was my first book of poetry. I felt intimidated going into it but I dove in anyway because I read her poem "Possibilities" somewhere else and I loved it. I'll be reading more poetry now thanks to Szymborska. I don't know much about poetry but I feel like this book was a success because I genuinely enjoyed and dog-eared 38 out of her 165 poems.

I prefer movies.
I prefer cats.
I prefer the oaks along the Warta.
I prefer Dickens to Dostoyevsky.
I prefer myself liking people
to mys
Nov 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry, own, favorites
Parting with a View

I don’t reproach the spring
for starting up again.
I can’t blame it
for doing what it must
year after year.

I know that my grief
will not stop the green.
The grass blade may bend
but only in the wind.

It doesn’t pain me to see
that clumps of alders above the water
have something to rustle with again.

I take note of the fact
that the shore of a certain lake
is still—as if you were living—
as lovely as before.

I don’t resent
the view for its vista
of a sun-dazzled bay.

I am even able to imagine
Sep 28, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I stumbled upon Wislawa Symborska a while ago and I am grateful. If I talk about a certain poet being the voice of America, or of nature, it is specific, limited and based on my unquestionably non expert opinion. But I think I am right here. This poet is a voice of humanity: brave, funny, serious, aware, in awe, and unable to put down. She knows how to be playful, and when and where to use it to make us smile, and then where to drop the guillotine of meaning and insight. She is not sappy, nor se ...more
Peter Croft
Sep 29, 2012 rated it really liked it
I think I may have a problem with the recently deceased Szymborska. Her poetry glitters, I have even watched her on Youtube speaking in Polish simply because her eyes also glitter with intelligience and humour. I knew they had to after stumbling across this volume in a used bookstore, opening it, and other than eating and sleeping, not putting it down until I had finished. Then I started all over again. Though a great number of these poems were written over half a century ago and in the drab opp ...more
T.D. Whittle
Jan 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is the kind of poetry to keep by your bedside, and read over and over again.
Dec 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Szymborska is entertainingly whimsical without ever being twee. Many of the poems arrive at anti-sentimental reminders of mortality, in fact. But there's a lot to enjoy and think about on the way there. One of my favorites now. Also, not that I can understand the original Polish, but the translators seem to have done an excellent job.
Mar 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Over the course of two days and a couple hours, I wrote a really long, heartfelt review of this book. GR ate that review due to my own fault (I actually wrote it in the GR review window and left it open that entire time; I did try to copy it before I posted it in case such a thing happened, but I somehow managed to copy it using keyboard shortcuts on a keyboard I disconnected several minutes before this). So, instead of hearing how sublime she is, how she belongs in a rock concert stadium with t ...more
Mar 21, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites


In danger, the holothurian cuts itself in two.
It abandons one self to a hungry world
and with the other self it flees.

It violently divides into doom and salvation,
retribution and reward, what has been and what will be.

An abyss appears in the middle of its body
between what instantly become two foreign shores.

Life on one shore, death on the other.
Here hope and there despair.

If there are scales, the pans don’t move.
If there is justice, this is it.

To die just as required, without excess.
Jul 24, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry, 2010, polish-lit
I'm really picky with poets. Reading this.... the lyricism I usually go for in poets seems to be absent. Some of the poems are really gorgeous - 'Over Wine', 'I Am Too Close', 'Report From the Hospital', 'Letters of the Dead', 'A Large Number', 'Sky', 'Parting With A View'.... The end of 'The Suicide's Room' - 'and he had so many friends, but all of us fit neatly / inside the empty envelope propped up against a cup' really got to me.

I also like that she writes so many very quotable things, the
Jan 09, 2009 rated it it was ok
Shelves: literary
I don't know what to make of her. She's extremely clever, with an eye for little observations about the spaces between that might otherwise slide by. To be honest, though, I often find her cleverness to be cold, with an ironic distance that is off-putting. Even the language that she uses--her wordplay--is brilliant, but skewed somehow, Dr. Seuss-ish in a way, silly or banal or just too demotic. I often get the feeling that each poem had a sudden insight that would work better as a haiku and feel ...more
Nov 24, 2011 rated it it was amazing
These works were translated marvelously. She manages to be ironic and witty, while remaining poignant and keeping human emotion in perspective. The word choice throughout is so achingly appropriate, as well. I love her work and highly recommend it.
Feb 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
Szymborska is one of the great European poets of the last century and the recipient of a Nobel Prize. Her poetry is incredibly accessible, written in a wry, prose style. Her humor is calculated and dry, and she thrives in comparison and paradox. The poems seem simple, but are deceptively complex.

This collection includes poems from previous collections as well as new poems. My favorites are the following.

Under One Small Star
My apologies to chance for calling it necessity.
My apologies to necessity
Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance
Jan 28, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
Wisława Szymborska writes poems that are beautiful meditations, rambling, meandering, twisting, always finding fresh air, and always—-bang!—-piercing your heart.
AJ (Andrea) Nolan
Somehow I had never really read Szymborska. I'm not sure how that is possible, but there you have it - there are always more writers to be read and "discovered," not discovered by the world in general, because Wislawa Szymborska is a Nobel Laureate, after all, so the world knows about her, but rather there are always more books and writers to be discovered by each one of us.

This collection spans her career, and while some of the books collected move me more than others, this collection gets fiv
Harry Allagree
Sep 19, 2015 rated it really liked it
One of the best features of this collection of poems is the placing of Szymborska's Nobel Lecture, "The Poet and the World" (1996), at the beginning. It provides a context from which one can understand why & how the poet has written as she has. "Whatever inspiration is, it's born from a continuous 'I don't know.'...any knowledge that doesn't lead to new questions quickly dies out...This is why I value that little phrase 'I don't know' so highly...Poets, if they're genuine, must also keep rep ...more
Ryan Horricks
Oct 16, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: poetry readers
By far and away my favorite poet right now. I discovered her in a collection by Billy Collins Poetry 180 and have devoured everything by her since...her poetry is fluid, literate, sarcastic and very human..I used to enjoy poems that were word puzzles, like wallace stevens, and william carlos williams, but my tastes now are different. Not to say that I like easy poems, just poems that don't make me have to fight to say that I like them..though I feel there is a place for the type of poetry that r ...more
It feels like for every things in my life, Szymborska has the right poem for it. Be it losing my phone, meeting ex-, visit to a museum, the value of true love, value of people I don't love, love at first sight, close brushes with mortality; you name it, she has it.

All these she told with the wonderful voice of hers. It's somewhere between tart and compassionate; open-eyed but never bitter. That's what I admire the most; she's never bitter. Her poem doesn't flatter or sugar coat life, it can be s
Feb 27, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
I have been intrigued with Szymborska ever since a few poetry friends here on Goodreads started sharing some of her powerful verse with me.
Oct 13, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry
I'm hesitant to rate/review this because everyone else seemed to adore it, and I had to force myself to finish. I feel I earned this, however, because I finished it. This started really strong for me. I was dog-earring like crazy. Had I found my (poet) soulmate?!

No. No, I had not.

I started finding it difficult to decipher her tone as the book went on, as the years went on. It appears that I liked Szymborska better in her early years. Maybe when she was more unpolished...I can't really tell.

Sara Batkie
Had been reading a poem before bed every night as part of a personal project to read more of the genre, and man have things changed since I started! Szymborska's poetry, because it's often so ironic and wry and, especially with the ones that rhyme, silly, may not seem on its immediate face like a radical act. But these are the tools of a survivor who perhaps never got entirely comfortable with the fact that she survived something so atrocious, still can't quite believe that she was one who walke ...more
Carl Denton
Dec 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
oooh mm
Mar 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I think one way I measure poetry is by how often I have to pause in a collection to digest in a particular poem. I've read some books in a single 60 minute sitting. This one was read over a month.

I love Szymborska because she's a very human writer. The poems are written in (and/or translated into) deceptively plain language, but the themes are deep and universal. She writes with uncommon humility about topics of love, tragedy, and the pros and cons of human existence. Reading her is less of a ba
Jonathan Hiskes
Jan 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
Hannah Notess puts it well: "Becoming a Nobel Laureate didn't really suit Wisława Szymborska (1923-2012). "What a catastrophe," she reportedly said upon learning she'd received the honor. She struggled with writing for several years after being thrust into the international public eye. I think it's fair to say she would have preferred never to win the prize.

Her loss was our gain. If she hadn't won the prize, it's difficult to imagine a volume like Map: Collected and Last Poems, getting published
Apr 30, 2009 rated it it was amazing
"Only what is human can truly be foreign."


::Conversation With A Stone::

I knock at the stone's front door.
"It's only me, let me come in.
I want to enter your insides,
have a look round,
breathe my fill of you."

"Go away," says the stone.
"I'm shut tight.
Even if you break me to pieces,
we'll all still be closed.
You can grind us to sand,
we still won't let you in."

I knock at the stone's front door.
"It's only me, let me come in.
I've come out of pure curiosity.
Only life can quench it.
I mean to stroll thr
Jun 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing
It's too bad I had to return this book to the library: only halfway through, and I am only now starting to understand the way the mighty Polish poetess Wisława Szymborska actually works, at least in English language form. At first, her poems seemed to me rather plain and did not speak to me in the way poets like Yeats and Eliot have. I suspected the translation process to be part of the problem; having had considerable experience with the Polish language, I'm aware that Polish is one of those la ...more
Jan 31, 2012 rated it really liked it
EDIT: Szymborska died on February 1, 2012, the day before I finished reading this book. I wrote most of the following review before I learned of her passing. May she rest in peace.


When I was a bit younger, I spent a lot of time socializing with mathematicians. It turns out that mathematicians are a rather homogeneous group. If you ask a mathematician what type of music he likes best, he'll almost certainly reply "Classical music." If you ask him who his favorite musician is, you can bet you
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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 peopl ...more
“When I pronounce the word Future,
the first syllable already belongs to the past.

When I pronounce the word Silence,
I destroy it.”
“Four billion people on this earth
but my imagination is still the same.
It's bad with large numbers.
It's still taken by particularity.
It flits in the dark like a flashlight,
illuminating only random faces
while all the rest go by,
never coming to mind and never really missed.”
More quotes…