Wisława Szymborska: an old Polish lady who made people laugh at our wedding

February 2, 2012 § Leave a comment

We had our friend Julian read this poem at our wedding. I think it was after our vows. Or before? I don’t remember. (But I do recall that although we sprung it on him at the last minute he delivered like he’d been rehearsing for days.)

We chose “True Love” because we liked it in English and our edition of Selected Poems had the original Polish on the opposite page, just in case any of Allie’s relatives from overseas made last-minute plans to join us.

True Love 

True love. Is it normal 
is it serious, is it practical? 
What does the world get from two people 
who exist in a world of their own? 

Placed on the same pedestal for no good reason, 
drawn randomly from millions but convinced 
it had to happen this way – in reward for what? 
For nothing. 
The light descends from nowhere. 
Why on these two and not on others? 
Doesn’t this outrage justice? Yes it does. 
Doesn’t it disrupt our painstakingly erected principles, 
and cast the moral from the peak? Yes on both accounts. 

Look at the happy couple. 
Couldn’t they at least try to hide it, 
fake a little depression for their friends’ sake? 
Listen to them laughing – its an insult. 
The language they use – deceptively clear. 
And their little celebrations, rituals, 
the elaborate mutual routines – 
it’s obviously a plot behind the human race’s back! 

It’s hard even to guess how far things might go 
if people start to follow their example. 
What could religion and poetry count on? 
What would be remembered? What renounced? 
Who’d want to stay within bounds? 

True love. Is it really necessary? 
Tact and common sense tell us to pass over it in silence, 
like a scandal in Life’s highest circles. 
Perfectly good children are born without its help. 
It couldn’t populate the planet in a million years, 
it comes along so rarely. 

Let the people who never find true love 
keep saying that there’s no such thing. 

Their faith will make it easier for them to live and die.


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