borrowing weighty words

“Reader with Magnifier” by Lesser Ury
“Reader with Magnifier” by Lesser Ury

I apologize to big questions for small answers.
O Truth, do not pay me too much heed.
O Solemnity, be magnanimous to me.
Endure, mystery of existence, that I pluck out the threads of your train.
Accuse me not, O soul, of possessing you but seldom.
I apologize to everything that I cannot be everywhere.
I apologize to everyone that I cannot be every man and woman.
I know that as long as I live nothing can justify me,
because I myself am an obstacle to myself.
Take it not amiss, O speech, that I borrow weighty words,
and later try hard to make them seem light.
~ Wislawa Szymborska
(Under a Certain Little Star)

18 thoughts on “borrowing weighty words”

  1. Barbara,

    Good morning! I had to come back to this because it was one of the first things I read. Not heeding the words, which did and do seem weighty to me. I still may have to come back for third and or fourth read to truly pick up the meaning here!
    I love the challenge though!
    Blessed Be!

    1. Ah, good morning, Jeff!

      Perhaps we all need a figurative magnifying glass from time to time. To me it seemed that the poet was acknowledging how huge the mystery of life is, and that we grasp so little of it at a time… The questions are big, the answers we manage to find, so small, like tiny threads… Our perceptions are limited by the few senses we have in our bodies and we often fail to find our own words to express what we do manage to discover. At least that is what I feel I’m doing when I quote writers and poets and lyricists, that I’m borrowing weighty words…

      But I am sure there are many more interpretations! 🙂

  2. Hello, Barbara! It always nice to read something thougtful before heading to bed 🙂

    These lines recall a philosophical idea… of how far we are from being “perfect”. I do not think we ever need to apologize for things we cannot be ever… or at the same time. It comes from the fact that we constantly dig some depths and then realize our smallness in the world. The imperfection itself is the beauty of human existence. That’s how we grow…

    1. We all kind of live with that awareness, Irina, that we cannot be all things to everyone, not even ourselves… As one who tends to be a perfectionist, I’m gradually coming to accept and embrace the beauty of imperfection you mentioned. Thank you so much for your thoughtful comment!

  3. Hi Barbara,
    Very deep poem, I also had to read it a few times, I love the explanation that was given to Jeff, also the comment from inquisitorial is very good. Both helped me a lot to understand the poem.

    1. It’s so refreshing to read the thoughts others are willing to share. Sometimes I get a different meaning from a poem if I read it in a different time of my life – it’s a wonder the way we humans use and play with words…

  4. ” I apologize to everything that I cannot be everywhere.
    I apologize to everyone that I cannot be every man and woman.” Sometimes we would like to be everywhere and be everything to everyone but we can’t. But in the end what matters is we tried our best and that our intentions were sincere, honest and good. Just a beautiful poem.

    1. I think that’s an excellent point you make – people do sense our intentions and that seems to matter more than what we can or cannot do. When others hurt or neglect us most often it is not done on purpose and we can forgive them because we know we need forgiveness just as much as they do… I believe in giving others the benefit of the doubt.

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