July 2, 2005

All Ears


This is one of the most amazing poems I have ever read, simply because of the way it sounds! The first time you read it, don't even think about what it says. Just listen to it.


Poised betneath a twig-wigged tree,
she spills her sparkling vocal powder:
slippery sound slivers, silvery
like spider's spittle, only louder.

Oh yes, she Cares (with a high C)
for Fellow-Humans (you and me);
for us she'll twitter nothing bitter;
she'll knit her fitter, sweeter glitter;
her vocal cords mince words for us
and crumble croutons with crisp crunch
(lunch for her little lambs to munch)
into a cream-filled demitasse.

But hark! It's dark! Oh doom too soon!
She's threatened by the black basoon.
It's hoarse and coarse, it's grim and gruff,
it calls her dainty voice's bluff--
Basso Profundo, end this terror,
do-re-mi mene tekel et cetera!

You want to silence her, abduct her
to our chilly life behind the scenes?
To our Siberian steppes of stopped-up sinuses,
frogs in all throats, eternal hems and haws,
where we, poor souls, gape soundlessly
like fish? And this is what you wish?

Oh nay! Oh nay! Though doom be nigh,
she'll keep her chin and pitch up high!
Her fate is hanging by a hair
of voice so thin it sounds like air,
but that's enough for her to take
a breath and soar, without a break,
chandelierward; and while she's there,
her vox humana crystal-clears
the whole world up. And we're all ears.

----Wislawa Szymborska

[The Queen appends: Szymborska has made an earlier appearance here at the Beehive, which you may read here. Fantastic poet. I recently bought a book of her poems, and Fa-So-La-La and I have been hiding it from one another ever since.]


Lynn Bruce said...

Amazing how Szymborska captures the sound of a coloratura in this poem. You just simply *hear* her singing the poem to you. Wonder how long it took her to write this?

TheHeadGirl said...

Hey, Queen Shenaynay, I was about to say that you could simply *hear* a coloratura singing while reading this poem. It made me want to find one of my (few) opera CDs as quickly as possible and turn it up Quite Loud. Dazzling.