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A Few Words on the Soul – Wislawa Szymborska

Poem by Nobel Laureate Wislawa Szymborska

We have a soul at times.
No one’s got it non-stop,
for keeps.

Day after day,
year after year
may pass without it.

Sometimes
it will settle for awhile
only in childhood’s fears and raptures.
Sometimes only in astonishment
that we are old.

It rarely lends a hand
in uphill tasks,
like moving furniture,
or lifting luggage,
or going miles in shoes that pinch.

It usually steps out
whenever meat needs chopping
or forms have to be filled.

For every thousand conversations
it participates in one,
if even that,
since it prefers silence.

Just when our body goes from ache to pain,
it slips off-duty.

It’s picky:
it doesn’t like seeing us in crowds,
our hustling for a dubious advantage
and creaky machinations make it sick.

Joy and sorrow
aren’t two different feelings for it.
It attends us
only when the two are joined.

We can count on it
when we’re sure of nothing
and curious about everything.

Among the material objects
it favors clocks with pendulums
and mirrors, which keep on working
even when no one is looking.

It won’t say where it comes from
or when it’s taking off again,
though it’s clearly expecting such questions.

We need it
but apparently
it needs us
for some reason too.

About The Author

Mariel Brewster
Mariel Brewster - View more articles

Mariel is a graduate of the Alexander Technique Training Center in Newton, MA where she earned a three-year American Society of Alexander Technique (AmSAT) certificate. Currently, Mariel teaches private lessons from her studio in Amelia Island, FL. She has completed a 2-year post-graduate study at ATTC. Mariel believes that the Alexander Technique is a wonderful tool that can help anyone to restore the natural ease and function of the, as well as to increase mindfulness in all activities of life.

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