Polish Language Blog

Nobel Prize-winning Wisława Szymborska dies at 88 Posted by on Feb 2, 2012 in Culture, Current News

Nobel Prize-winning poet Wisława Szymborska died Wednesday at home in Kraków, Poland.

The 88-year-old poet had been afflicted with lung cancer. Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski said on Twitter that her death was an “irreparable loss to Poland’s culture.”

When Szymborska was awarded the Nobel Prize in literature in 1996, the committee cited her “for poetry that with ironic precision allows the historical and biological context to come to light in fragments of human reality.”

Szymborska published her first book of poetry in 1952. Her work has been translated into more than a dozen languages. “I prefer the absurdity of writing poems to the absurdity of not writing poems,” she once said.

In 1996, after the Nobel announcement, the Times’ Warsaw bureau chief, Dean E. Murphy, spoke to Szymborska — “a retiring woman with wispy gray hair who cherishes her solitude” — about her work. “The award came as a surprise to Szymborska, and most everyone else in Poland, not because she is considered unworthy, but because her poetry speaks mostly to universal themes rather than the parochial political subjects that have distinguished Eastern European verse since World War II,” he wrote.

Paying farewell to the poet, Poland’s President Bronisław Komorowski and his wife Anna wrote that Wisława Szymborska was their “guardian spirit”.

“In her poems we could find brilliant advice which made the world easier to understand” – the presidential couple added.

Last year, President Bronisław Komorowski honoured Wisława Szymborska with Poland’s highest distinction, The Order of the White Eagle, in recognition of her contribution to her country’s culture.

Do następnego razu… (Till next time…)

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About the Author: Kasia

My name is Kasia Scontsas. I grew near Lublin, Poland and moved to Warsaw to study International Business. I have passion for languages: any languages! Currently I live in New Hampshire. I enjoy skiing, kayaking, biking and paddle boarding. My husband speaks a little Polish, but our daughters are fluent in it! I wanted to make sure that they can communicate with their Polish relatives in our native language. Teaching them Polish since they were born was the best thing I could have given them! I have been writing about learning Polish language and culture for Transparent Language’s Polish Blog since 2010.


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