Spring 2001 • Vol. XXIII No. 2 Cultures of Creativity: The Centennial Celebration of the Nobel PrizesApril 1, 2001 |

Conversation with a Stone

From the Polish.     I knock on the stone's door. —It's me, let me in. I want to come inside, look all around; breathe you in.     —Go away—says the stone.— I'm tightly closed: even broken to bits we would be closed, tight. Even ground to sand we would admit no one.     I knock on the stone's door. —It's me, let me in. I come out of pure curiosity: I can only do it this side of death. I intend to wander through your palace, then return to the leaf, the water-drop. My time is short— surely my mortality touches you.     —I am stone—says the stone— and must therefore remain grave. Go away from here— fleshly laughter is beyond me.     I knock on the stone's door. —It's me, let me in. I've heard of your vast empty halls, unseen, barrenly beautiful, earless, echoless, untrodden. Admit, even you know little of this.     —Vast, empty halls—says the stone— but there's no room in them. Beautiful they m

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Wislawa Szymborska (1923-2012) was a Polish poet, essayist, translator and recipient of the 1996 Nobel Prize in Literature. Her poetry is full of wisdom, wit, and a haunting, surreal quality. One of her major themes is differentness, or otherness: the lack of mutual comprehension between different conditions, species, kinds of matter.

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