Monologue of a Dog

Monologue of a Dog

by Wislawa Szymborska

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From a writer whom Charles Simic calls "one of the finest poets living" comes a collection of witty, compassionate, contemplative, and always surprising poems.See more details below


From a writer whom Charles Simic calls "one of the finest poets living" comes a collection of witty, compassionate, contemplative, and always surprising poems.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Nobel laureate Symborska takes on current events and ancient conundrums in this elegant, terse new collection. The title abbreviates the opening poem, "Monologue of a Dog Ensnared in History": the dog stands for all the citizens who served, or simply failed to resist, dictators, then wondered at the revolutions that displaced them. Other poems consider wartime victims: "What if... I'd been born/ in the wrong tribe,/ with all roads closed before me?" One poem perhaps destined for widespread reprinting depicts with tact and awe the jumping, falling casualties of September 11. Yet Symborska (View with a Grain of Sand) also excels with slower, less topical concerns. "Joy and sorrow," she explains, "aren't two different feelings" for the human soul; rather, the soul "attends us/ only when the two are joined." Symborska and her translators (the Polish is on facing pages) achieve a diction suited to her drily understated wisdom, and some of her work may be quoted far and wide; "Life is the only way," another poem advises, "to get covered in leaves,/ catch your breath on the sand,/ rise on wings." (Nov.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
O Magazine

"The wry and slyly tender voice of Wislawa Szymborska couldn''t belong to anyone else."

— Mark Doty

Library Journal
A dog's monolog might indeed be as wise and yet as simply stated as the two dozen poems in this bilingual edition, evidence that Polish poet Szymborska richly deserved that Nobel prize. The particular excellence of her writing is summed up by her description of falling bodies in "Photograph of September 11": "I can do only two things for them-/ describe this flight/ and not add a last line." (LJ 10/1/05) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
O Magazine - Mark Doty

"The wry and slyly tender voice of Wislawa Szymborska couldn't belong to anyone else."
From the Publisher


"Szymborska is unquestionably one of the great living European poets. She's deeply human and a joy to read . . . [A] poet to live with."--Robert Hass, The Washington Post Book World

"She captures the nightmarish contingency of human survival, and the human callousness toward nature, with an ironic elegance miraculously free of bitterness."--The New Yorker

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Monologue of a Dog Ensnared
in History
There are dogs and dogs. I was among the chosen.
I had good papers and wolf's blood in my veins.
I lived upon the heights inhaling the odors of views:
meadows in sunlight, spruces after rain,
and clumps of earth beneath the snow.

I had a decent home and people on call,
I was fed, washed, groomed,
and taken for lovely strolls.
Respectfully, though, and comme il faut.
They all knew full well whose dog I was.

Any lousy mutt can have a master.
Take care, though-beware comparisons.
My master was a breed apart.
He had a splendid herd that trailed his every step and fixed its eyes on him in fearful awe.

Monolog psa zaplatanego
w dzieje
Sa psy i psy. Ja bylem psem wybranym.
Mialem dobre papiery i w zylach krew wilcza.
Mieszkalem na wyzynie wdychajac wonie widoków na laki w sloncu, na swierki po deszczu i grudy ziemi spod sniegu.

Mialem porzadny dom i ludzi na uslugi bylem zywiony, myty, szczotkowany,
wyprowadzany na piekne spacery.
Jednak z szacunkiem, bez poufalosci.
Kazdy dobrze pamietal, czyim jestem psem.

Byle parszywy kundel potrafi miec pana.
Ale uwaga-wara od porównan.
Mój pan byl panem jedynym w swoim rodzaju.
Mial okazale stado chodzace za nim krok w krok i zapatrzone w niego z lekliwym podziwem.

Copyright © by Wislawa Szymborska, 2002
Translation copyright © 2006 by Harcourt, Inc.
Foreword © 2006 by Billy Collins

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical,
including photocopy, recording, or any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.

Requests for permission to make copies of any part of the work should be mailed to the following address: Permissions Department, Harcourt, Inc.,
6277 Sea Harbor Drive, Orlando, Florida 32887-6777.

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