Photograph from September 11

By Wisława Szymborska 1923–2012 Wisława Szymborska

Translated By Clare Cavanagh and Stanislaw Baranczak

They jumped from the burning floors—
one, two, a few more,
higher, lower.

The photograph halted them in life,
and now keeps them   
above the earth toward the earth.

Each is still complete,
with a particular face
and blood well hidden.

There’s enough time
for hair to come loose,
for keys and coins
to fall from pockets.

They’re still within the air’s reach,
within the compass of places
that have just now opened.

I can do only two things for them—
describe this flight
and not add a last line.

Wisława Szymborska, “Photograph from September 11” from Monologue of a Dog. Copyright © 2005 by Wisława Szymborska. Reprinted with permission of Harcourt, Inc.

Source: Monologue of a Dog (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2005)

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Poet Wisława Szymborska 1923–2012

POET’S REGION Poland

Subjects Living, Cities & Urban Life, Sorrow & Grieving, Social Commentaries, Death

Holidays September 11th

 Wisława  Szymborska

Biography

Well-known in her native Poland, Wisława Szymborska received international recognition when she won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1996. In awarding the prize, the Academy praised her “poetry that with ironic precision allows the historical and biological context to come to light in fragments of human reality.” Collections of her poems that have been translated into English include People on a Bridge (1990), View with a . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Cities & Urban Life, Sorrow & Grieving, Social Commentaries, Death

POET’S REGION Poland

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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