Poetry reading


To be a boxer, or not to be there
at all. O Muse, where are our teeming crowds? 
Twelve people in the room, eight seats to spare -
it's time to start this cultural affair.
Half came inside because it started raining, 
the rest are relatives. O Muse.

The women here would love to rant and rave, 
but that's for boxing. Here they must behave. 
Dante's Inferno is ringside nowadays.
Likewise his Paradise. O Muse.

Oh, not to be a boxer but a poet, 
one sentenced to hard shelleying for life, 
for lack of muscles forced to show the world 
the sonnet that may make the high-school reading lists 
with luck. O Muse,
O bobtailed angel, Pegasus.

In the first row, a sweet old man's soft snore: 
he dreams his wife's alive again. What's more, 
she's making him that tart she used to bake. 
Aflame, but carefully - don't burn his cake! -
we start to read. O Muse.


Wisława Szymborska, Poetry reading
Photo: Gianni Berengo Gardin

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