It’s one thing to start every day with a poem. But another altogether to start your day with a poet. One of our favorite days of the year is fast approaching, when we encourage people around the world to take their favorite poet to work for the day.
Take Your Poet to Work Day is coming July 15, 2015
To help you play and celebrate with us, we’re releasing poets each week in a compact, convenient format you can tuck in your pocket, tool belt, or lunchbox. We started our celebration two years ago with Sara Teasdale, Pablo Neruda, T. S. Eliot, Rumi, Edgar Allan Poe, and the reclusive Emily Dickinson (for folks who work at home). We even released a full collection, The Haiku Masters: Matsuo Basho, Yosa Buson, and Kobayashi Issa. And last year, we added Langston Hughes, Adrienne Rich, John Keats, William Butler Yeats, Christina Rossetti and the beloved 20th-century American poet, Sylvia Plath.
Because you can never have too many poets in your lunch box (or your desk drawer), we have a new collection of poets to release this year, including the Bard of Avon William Shakespeare, beloved poet Maya Angelou, iconic American poet Robert Frost, and Russian poet Anna Akhmatova. Today, we welcome Polish poet Wisława Szymborska to the Take Your Poet to Work Day poet collection.
Take Your Poet to Work: Wisława Szymborska
Get your own downloadable version of Take Your Poet to Work Day Wisława Szymborska that you can print, color and cut out for the big day.
Wisława Szymborska was born in Poland in 1923. As a poet and essayist, she became very popular in Poland, gaining international popularity when she was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1996.
She has been called the “Mozart of Poetry” for her work, which is notable for its dark wit, irony and contradiction. Szymborska’s poems are often written against the backdrop of the violence of her experience having lived through the second World War and the rise of communism.
As a member of the Communist Party and part of the intellectual class, her early work reflected communist philosophies, which she later denounced.
Szymborska, who lived most of her life in Krakow, published 15 collections of poetry, six of which have been translated into English. She died in 2012.
Cat in an Empty Apartment
Die—you can’t do that to a cat.
Since what can a cat do
in an empty apartment?
Climb the walls?
Rub up against the furniture?
Nothing seems different here
but nothing is the same.
Nothing’s been moved
but there’s more space.
And at nighttime no lamps are lit.
Footsteps on the staircase,
but they’re new ones.
The hand that puts fish on the saucer
has changed, too.
Something doesn’t start
at its usual time.
Something doesn’t happen
as it should.
Someone was always, always here,
then suddenly disappeared
and stubbornly stays disappeared.
Every closet’s been examined.
Every shelf has been explored.
Excavations under the carpet turned up nothing.
A commandment was even broken:
papers scattered everywhere.
What remains to be done.
Just sleep and wait.
Just wait till he turns up,
just let him show his face.
Will he ever get a lesson
on what not to do to a cat.
Sidle toward him
as if unwilling
and ever so slow
on visibly offended paws,
and no leaps or squeals at least to start.
—Wisława Szymborska, translated from the Polish byStanisław Barańczak and Clare Cavanagh
Learn more about Take Your Poet to Work Day and our featured poets
Discover more Poets and Poems
Explore more Wisława Szymborska
Post and illustrations by LW Lindquist.
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