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Meditation on the images of 9/11

Sunday, 7 September, 2014

The Nobel Prize in Literature 1996 was awarded to the Polish poet Wislawa Szymborska “for poetry that with ironic precision allows the historical and biological context to come to light in fragments of human reality.” Her meditation on the fate of those who plunged to their deaths from the burning Twin Towers on 9/11 ponders those unforgettable, searing “fragments of human reality.”

Photograph from September 11

They jumped from the burning floors —
one, two, a few more,
higher, lower.

The photograph halted them in life,
and now keeps them
above the earth toward the earth.

Each is still complete,
with a particular face
and blood well hidden.

There’s enough time
for hair to come loose,
for keys and coins
to fall from pockets.

They’re still within the air’s reach,
within the compass of places
that have just now opened.

I can do only two things for them—
describe this flight
and not add a last line.

Wislawa Szymborska (1923 — 2012)


Filed in: Poetry

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