wislawa szymborska | drinking wine

29 10 2007


Poetry Dispatch No. 125 | November 20, 2006


“I liken love to a great house, a mansion that once you go in, the big door shuts behind you and you have no idea, no premonition where it will all lead to. Chambers, vaults, confounded mazes, ladders, scaffolding, into darkness, out of darkness—anything.” Edna O’Brien from JOHNNY I HARDLY KNEW YOU


DRINKING WINE by Wislawa Szymborska translated by Grazýna Drabik and Sharon Olds

He looked, and gave me beauty,
and I took it as if mine.
Happy, I swallowed a star.

I allowed myself to be
invented in the likeness
of the reflection in his eyes.
I am dancing, dancing
in the flutter of sudden wings.

A table is a table,
wine is wine in a glass
that is just a glass and stands
standing on a table. While
I am imaginary
to the point of no belief,
to the point of blood.

I am telling him
what he wants to hear: ants
dying of love under
the constellation of the dandelion.
I swear that a white rose,
sprinkled with wine, sings.

I am laughing, tilting
my head carefully
as if checking an invention.
I am dancing, dancing
in astonished skin, in
an embrace that creates me.

Eve from a rib, Venus from sea-foam,
Minerva from Jove’s head —
all were more real than I.

When he stops looking at me
I search for my reflection
on a wall. And I see only
a nail from which a picture
has been removed.

from Calyx, Special International Issue, 1980



2 responses

10 02 2012
carol gresko

I have loved her for so many years. The fun, genius and beauty of her work makes the pain of her death almost bearable. Thank you for putting this out on your site…… I love” Wietnam” in the Polish version, but it is great as “Vietnam” in English too, the translators make all the difference. I don’t love it for the war, I love it for the “Mother”.
“The Women of Rubens”, I still read it daily, but only the Krynski and Maguire translations, the other translators didn’t “get it”.

17 12 2018
Recap of December 2018 One Page Poetry Circle | One Page Poetry Circle

[…] read “Drinking Wine” by Wislawa Szymborska, in which the speaker is “imaginary” in contrast to wine, “A table […]

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