Guerrilla Warfare (Picket Duty In Virginia) by Albert Bierstadt. [Public domain]
My deepest condolences to the people of Norway. I too was stunned and shocked that such senseless violence would occur in the peace-loving part of the world which awards the Nobel Peace Prize.
If that idiot was angry, why did he take his anger out on innocent people who just happened to be in the wrong place, at the wrong time? And why all those teenagers?
At times like this only a poem will suffice:
- by Wislawa Szymborska
It could have happened.
It had to happen.
It happened earlier. Later.
Closer. Farther away.
It happened, but not to you.
You survived because you were first.
You survived because you were last.
Because alone. Because the others.
Because on the left. Because on the right.
Because it was raining. Because it was sunny.
Because a shadow fell.
Luckily there was a forest.
Luckily there were no trees.
Luckily a rail, a hook, a beam, a brake,
A frame, a turn, an inch, a second.
Luckily a straw was floating on the water.
Thanks to, thus, in spite of, and yet.
What would have happened if a hand, a leg,
One step, a hair away?
So you are here? Straight from that moment still suspended?
The net’s mesh was tight, but you? through the mesh?
I can’t stop wondering at it, can’t be silent enough.
How quickly your heart is beating in me.
translated from the Polish by Grazyna Drabik and Sharon Olds
Polish poet Wisława Szymborska [viˈswava ʂɨmˈbɔrska] (born July 1923), has only published about two hundred and fifty poems, mostly about war and terrorism, but every one of them, like the poem above, is “unforgettable”.
In 1996 she won the Nobel Prize for Literature. The Academy praised her “poetry that with ironic precision allows the historical and biological context to come to light in fragments of human reality”.
Billy Collins wrote in an introduction to one of her books: “Her simple, relaxed language dares to let us know exactly what she is thinking…we are led, almost unaware, into the intriguing and untranslatable realms that lie just beyond the boundaries of speech.”
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February 4, 2012. I just heard that Wislawa Szymborska died this week. R.I.P.