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After every war
someone has to tidy up.
Things won’t pick
themselves up, after all.

In reading the selected poems by Wislaw Szymborska, I found that her work entitled “The End and The Beginning” stood out to me the most. In researching her life, I found that her work was often inspired by her experience of growing up in Poland in the span of time between two devastating world wars. This particular poem is interesting in that instead of focusing on the grisly carnage of the battlefield, it focuses on the lesser talked about destruction that war leaves behind. Each of the poem’s stanzas talks about the way the war has changed the lives of the citizens of the country as well as the inherent trauma of living through such a destructive event. The way she uses language really conveys the quiet suffering of the civilians left behind to deal with their own inner battles as time continues to pass and the world moves on to other wars in other places.

Those who knew
what this was all about
must make way for those
who know little.
And less than that.
And at last nothing less than nothing.

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