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Szymborska writes in a pointed, direct style that is lyrical at the same time.  Some of her poems, like “Reality Demands” and “The End and the Beginning,” discuss events from World War II.  Out of all the poems in these selected works, “Under a Certain Little Star” is my favorite.  The whole poem speaks to a feeling of inadequacy, a universal sentiment that everyone has felt at some point or another.  By including the words “Certain Little” in the title, Syzmborska indicates to the reader how small and insignificant and alone the speaker feels.  Specifying the sun in this manner makes it sound isolated, as if the narrator, and not 7.53 billion other people, is the only one illuminated by its light.

In the poem, Syzmborska apologizes to trees, concepts, and events for not being enough.  While there is something whimsical about her asking hope to forgive her laughter, or “the cut-down tree for the table’s four legs,” there is an unbearable sadness to the poem.  The line “I myself am an obstacle to myself” is particularly heartbreaking.  I am amazed by the quality of these translated poems, “Under a Certain Little Star” included.  The translators did a fantastic job of maintaining the original tone of the poem (I’m assuming here since I don’t speak Polish) and making sure that it stayed consistent.


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