My Grief Will Not Stop the Green

DSC_9186Parting with a View

I don’t reproach the spring
for starting up again.
I can’t blame it
for doing what it must
year after year.

I know that my grief
will not stop the green.
The grass blade may bend
but only in the wind.

It doesn’t pain me to see
that clumps of alders above the water
have something to rustle with again.

I take note of the fact
that the shore of a certain lake
is still—as if you were living—
as lovely as before.

DSC_3750I don’t resent
the view for its vista
of a sun-dazzled bay.

I am even able to imagine
some non-us
sitting at this minute
on a fallen birch trunk.

I respect their right
to whisper, laugh,
and lapse into happy silence.

I can even allow
that they are bound by love
and that he holds her
with a living arm.

DSC_2792Something freshly birdish
starts rustling in the reeds.
I sincerely want them to hear it.

I don’t require changes from the surf,
now diligent, now sluggish,
obeying not me.

I expect nothing
from the depths near the woods,
first emerald, then sapphire, than black.

There’s one thing I won’t agree to:
my own return.
The privilege of presence
I give it up.

I survived you by enough,
and only by enough,
to contemplate from afar.

— Wislawa Szymborska
Translated from Polish by Stanislaw Baranczak and Clare Cavanagh
from Poems New and Collected

Three dear friends of mine are approaching the one-year mark of grief,
the dreadful day they went from wife to widow in a moment.
They came immediately to mind as I pondered this poem.


10 thoughts on “My Grief Will Not Stop the Green

  1. Carol, this poem is amazing. During intense seasons of grief it is difficult to imagine the world continues to turn, for the grieving their world does stop.

    • Doesn’t she capture that feeling? I’m captured by Szymborska (pronounced Shin BOR ska). I’m also mightily impressed with her translators; poetry is the hardest to get right in the translated language.

  2. You continue to Begird me with beautiful images and thought provoking words. I am Beholden to you and so glad that I now Belong!


    • Bebe, thank you for bestowing me with smiles. I’m glad you belong!

      Today I read a sentence with two glorious be- words: Burke, who came from a Lithuanian Jewish family, was a sophisticated, dryly witted man who wore bespoke three-piece suits befitting his formal Old World manner.

      I needed help with bespoke: it means commissioned or custom-made.

  3. Carol, this is indeed a poem to be pondered — a satisfying expression of thoughts that many have grappled with. One reading isn’t enough, and I find myself reading it again, nodding and whispering “Yes!” Thanks for sharing it with us!

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