Szymborska, Wisława

Szymborska, Wisława wēswäˈvä shĭmbôrˈskä [key], 1923–2012, Polish poet, b. Bnin, studied Jagiellonian Univ., Kraków (1945–48). Although highly acclaimed in her homeland, Szymborska was largely unknown in the West until she won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1996. She wrote Dlatego zjemy [that's why we are alive] (1952) and Pytania zadawane sobie [questions put to myself] (1954) under Stalinist pressure and later repudiated them. Szymborska turned to philosophical observation in Wołanie do Yeti [calling to the yeti] (1957), and in that work, Sól [salt] (1962), and Sto pociech [a barrel of laughs] (1967) she explored human isolation and celebrated poetic creation. Szymborska, who often emphasizes the uniqueness of the individual, has been called an ironic moralist. Her verse is deceptively simple; her language colloquial, precise, and contained; and her tone detached and dryly sardonic. Collections of her poetry in English translation include Sounds, Feelings, Thoughts: Seventy Poems (1981), View with a Grain of Sand (1995), Poems New and Collected, 1957–1997 (1998), Here (2011), and Map: Collected and Last Poems (2015). Szymborska also was an accomplished translator, literary critic, and essayist.

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