Pick-a-Poem: “Map”


Hello, blog readers! Welcome to another installment of our Pick-a-Poem series, which features a new poem every Wednesday. Every week, we find a new poem through Poetry Daily in the hopes that you’ll be introduced to some new poetry. Poetry Daily is a great website that features a new poem every single day. This week, we feature Map by Wisława Szymborska.

According to The Poetry Foundation, Wisława Szymborska is a Polish poet who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1996. Several of her poetry collections have been translated into English, including People on a Bridge (1990), View with a Grain of Sand: Selected Poems (1995), and Monologue of a Dog (2005). In her lifetime, she received the Polish PEN Club prize, the Goethe prize, and the Herder Prize.

Map by Wisława Szymborska

Flat as the table
it’s placed on.
Nothing moves beneath it
and it seeks no outlet.
Above—my human breath
creates no stirring air
and leaves its total surface

Its plains, valleys are always green,
uplands, mountains are yellow and brown,
while seas, oceans remain a kindly blue
beside the tattered shores.

Everything here is small, near, accessible.
I can press volcanoes with my fingertip,
stroke the poles without thick mittens,
I can with a single glance
encompass every desert
with the river lying just beside it.

A few trees stand for ancient forests,
you couldn’t lose your way among them.

In the east and west,
above and below the equator—
quiet like pins dropping,
and in every black pinprick
people keep on living.
Mass graves and sudden ruins
are out of the picture.

Nations’ borders are barely visible
as if they wavered—to be or not.

I like maps, because they lie.
Because they give no access to the vicious truth.
Because great-heartedly, good-naturedly
they spread before me a world
not of this world.

I hope you enjoyed this week’s featured poem! For more of these, click here!

— Jet Fuel Blog Editor, Mary Egan


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