The Railroad Station by Wisława Szymborska


My nonarrival in the city of N.
took place on the dot.

You’d been alerted
in my unmailed letter.

You were able not to be there
at the agreed-upon time.

The train pulled up at Platform 3.
A lot of people got out.

My absence joined the throng
as it made its way toward the exit.

Several women rushed
to take my place
in all that rush.

Somebody ran up to one of them.
I didn’t know him,
but she recognized him

While they kissed
with not our lips,
a suitcase disappeared,
not mine.

The railroad station in the city of N.
passed its exam
in objective existence
with flying colors.

The whole remained in place.
Particulars scurried
along the designated tracks.

Even a rendezvous
took place as planned.

Beyond the reach
of our presence.

In the paradise lost
of probability.

Somewhere else.
Somewhere else.
How these little words ring.

   Translated by Stanislaw Baranczak and Clare Cavanagh  

2 thoughts on “The Railroad Station by Wisława Szymborska

  1. Fascinating how the “sound” of the original comes through the translation. As good as it is, i feel i am missing something without knowing Polish better


  2. I used to tease a friend of mine who loved War and Peace by insisting that he had never actually read it since he didn’t know Russian. Szymborska translates well, but you should probably work on your Polish. Powodzenia.


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