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Wislaw Symborska admits herself that her poetry focuses on the “particulars.” She is interested in the minute details of the world. She sees the larger image but she isn’t focused on that but instead the small things that would normally go unnoticed. Her poem “Unexpected Meeting” is about the reunion of two people but the images she provides to explain this are interesting and strange. In “The End and the Beginning,” Wislaw talks about war but she is more interested into the aftermath than the war itself. She views it from the point of view of the survivor, of the person picking up the pieces and trying to continue on with their life. It is a small window into a much larger scene, but it is an important view and she describes it beautifully.

In the poem “The Women of Rubens” Wislaw describes a female subject in one of Peter Paul Rubens paintings. Again, Wislaw has zoomed in on a narrow subject this time in the world of Rubens.  Her descriptions are almost more beautiful than the paintings themselves.  She writes “Giantesses, female fauna, naked as the rumbling of barrels. They sprawl in trampled beds, sleep with with mouths agape for crowing…” It is a vivid image made up of beautiful language. Even though her viewpoint is but a glance Wislaw has created a world with her words.

Many of Wislaw’s descriptions are very in tune with nature. Her poem “Unexpected Meeting” is about the reunion of two people but the images she provides to explain this are interesting and strange. The line “Our serpents have shaken off lightning” is gorgeous. It is a powerful image, and even though I am not quite sure what she means, it is a line that stuck with me as I continued to read the rest of the poems.

“The End and the Beginning” stands out the most to me out of all of Wislaw’s poetry.  Wislaw was alive during World War II and afterwards.  She would have been there to see the destruction and the aftermath.  Wislaw witnessed first hand as her people picked up after the war. “The End and the Beginning” talks about something people often forget, that war leads to destruction and that destruction is left on the shoulders of the people who live there.  Wislaw zooms in on the little people, the ones “picking up the broom” and “lugging the post.”  By doing this, Wislaw creates a powerful and vivid image of a war torn city rebuilding after the horrors of war.

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