Friday, October 16, 2009

Szymborska: Vietnam

Wislawa Szymborska's poem "Vietnam" as translated by Stanislaw Baranczak and Clare Cavanagh (from "Poems New and Collected 1957-1997, Harcourt, 1998):

"Woman, what's your name?" "I don't know."
"How old are you? Where are you from?" "I don't know."
"Why did you dig that burrow?" "I don't know."
"How long have you been hiding?" "I don't know."
"Why did you bite my finger?" "I don't know."
"Don't you know that we won't hurt you?" "I don't know."
"Whose side are you on?" "I don't know."
"This is war, you've got to choose." "I don't know."
"Does your village still exist?" "I don't know."
"Are those your children?" "Yes."

I'll feature that poem in my response paper to Mark Belletini's presentation on Szymborska at the Ohio River Group study group next week. ORG is great--you should join!


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