“The thicker the woods, the vaster the vista: the Valley of Obviously.” – Utopia by Wislawa Symzborska

UtopiaPicture Credit: taken by Soundmonster

A visitor to this blog left the following comment on the Poem #21: Nothing Twice by Wislawa Szymborska post:

Best poem for dealing with grief I have ever read. I come back to it again and again, ever since I first came across it, after the unexpected death of my sister. At this point I have it memorized, but I still like to read the words. From another poem of hers (about her own sister), it “explains everything everything everything.”

I woke up two days ago desperately needing for the previous 12 hour period to repeat itself.  I wanted more sleep, more time to myself, more time to ward off the time to come. Szymborska will have none of that in Nothing Twice.  She looks at the passage of time  – the joyful times, the sad times, the so-so times – and how it shapes each of us uniquely.

The visitor, Tracy, mourns her sister in these times – a sister uniquely formed by the opportunities offered in the passage of her time.

It is a waste then to spend our time whining about Time’s passage. I should accept this. From Nothing Twice:

Why do we treat the fleeting day
with so much needless fear and sorrow?
It’s in its nature not to stay:
Today is always gone tomorrow.

The last line of Tracy’s comment, the ‘explains everything everything everything’, sent me looking for Szymborska’s Utopia.  The poet had a habit of taking grand ideas and delusions and slaying them with one of her signature traits: playfulness.

I thank Tracy for her visit.


Island where all becomes clear.

Solid ground beneath your feet.

The only roads are those that offer access.

Bushes bend beneath the weight of proofs.

The Tree of Valid Supposition grows here
with branches disentangled since time immemorial.

The Tree of Understanding, dazzlingly straight and simple,
sprouts by the spring called Now I Get It.

The thicker the woods, the vaster the vista:
the Valley of Obviously.

If any doubts arise, the wind dispels them instantly.

Echoes stir unsummoned
and eagerly explain all the secrets of the worlds.

On the right a cave where Meaning lies.

On the left the Lake of Deep Conviction.
Truth breaks from the bottom and bobs to the surface.

Unshakable Confidence towers over the valley.
Its peak offers an excellent view of the Essence of Things.

For all its charms, the island is uninhabited,
and the faint footprints scattered on its beaches
turn without exception to the sea.

As if all you can do here is leave
and plunge, never to return, into the depths.

Into unfathomable life.

– by Wislawa Szymborska

Translated by S. Baranczak & C. Cavanagh
Copyright © Wislawa Szymborska, S. Baranczak & C. Cavanagh

Source: Nobelprize.org


One comment

  1. Hi, this touches me deep,
    This Utopia poem.
    Havevtovread it more, twice or
    To get closer in.
    Thank u for sharing.
    I follow u quite some time…
    Reading randomly…
    Always finding treasures.
    Makes the world go sound and round and one.
    Love from just an occasional visiter…
    Keep on sharing& giving
    In my tiny way hope i gave u2 wee bit.


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