The Joy of Writing



Why does this written doe bound through these written woods?

For a drink of written water from a spring

whose surface will Xerox her soft muzzle?

Why does she lift her head; does she hear something?

Perched on four slim legs borrowed from the truth,

she pricks up her ears beneath my fingertips.

Silence – this word also rustles across the page

and parts the boughs

that have sprouted from the word “woods.”


Lying in wait, se to pounce on the blank page,

are letters up to no good,

clutches of clauses so subordinate

they’ll never let her get away.


Each drip of ink contains a fair supply

of hunters, equipped with slanting eyes behind their sights,

prepared to swarm the sloping pen at any moment,

surround the doe, and slowly aim their guns.


They forget that what’s here isn’t life.

Other laws, black on white, obtain.

The twinkling of an eye will take as long as I say,

and will, if I wish, divide into tiny eternities ,

full of bullets stopped in mid-flight.

Not a thing will ever happen unless I say so.

Without my blessing, not a leaf will fall,

not a blade of grass will bend beneath that little hoof’s full stop.


Is there then a world

where I rule absolutely on fate?

A time I bind with chains of signs?

An existence become endless at my bidding?

The joy of writing.

The power of preserving.

Revenge of a mortal hand.




Wisława Szymborska              

(from No End of Fun 1967)