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By Wisława Szymborska 1923–2012 Wisława Szymborska

Translated By Stanislaw Baranczak and Clare Cavanagh

I’m a tranquilizer.
I’m effective at home.
I work in the office.
I can take exams
on the witness stand.
I mend broken cups with care.
All you have to do is take me,
let me melt beneath your tongue,
just gulp me
with a glass of water.

I know how to handle misfortune,
how to take bad news.
I can minimize injustice,
lighten up God’s absence,
or pick the widow’s veil that suits your face.
What are you waiting for—
have faith in my chemical compassion.

You’re still a young man/woman.
It’s not too late to learn how to unwind.
Who said
you have to take it on the chin?

Let me have your abyss.
I’ll cushion it with sleep.
You’ll thank me for giving you
four paws to fall on.

Sell me your soul.
There are no other takers.

There is no other devil anymore.

Wislawa Szymborska, "Advertisement" from Poems New and Selected. Copyright © 1998 by Wislawa Szymborska.  Reprinted by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Source: Poems New and Collected (Harcourt Inc., 1998)

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Poet Wisława Szymborska 1923–2012

POET’S REGION Poland

Subjects Living, Disappointment & Failure, Social Commentaries, Popular Culture, Humor & Satire, Arts & Sciences, Money & Economics

 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, Disappointment & Failure, Social Commentaries, Popular Culture, Humor & Satire, Arts & Sciences, Money & Economics

POET’S REGION Poland

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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