Poems New and Collected 1957–1997
By Wislawa Szymborska

Everyone should have a mantra to help them through the dark times, and the poems of this Nobel Prize–winning Polish woman are the nearest I have come to a passport to the light. Her poem "Four A.M." has comforted and warmed me during some very shaky moments in my life.

"The hour when the earth takes back its warm embrace.
The hour of cool drafts from extinguished stars.
The hour of do–we–vanish–too–without–a–trace."

Szymborska's vision of the tenderness, intensity and fragility of the world and the elegant simplicity with which she describes it just take my breath away. On a desert island, if I were allowed only one book, I think this would have to be it.


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