In her poem, "Return Baggage,"
Szymborska writes of an old woman walking past the graves of
young children, pondering their early departure from life. In
her final stanza, she writes in Greek, a paradox:
Only stony Greek has words for that
—from the poem, "Return
Baggage" by Wislawa Szymborska
The length of people's lives,
of the universe, of all the world,
is but a bizarre paradox in time
—an attempted translation of
the Greek by Brad Hyde
Remember that Szymborska wants us
to think about how time is measured, as is our lives, as is the
time our Earth might continue to exist, and our universe,
eventually, as well.
Our lives have their own
duration, an arbitrary passage of time, in the same way as time
passes for the unimaginable age of the universe.
sometimes die very young, is the way
Szymborska shows us the
cruel arbitrariness of time.
Thus what is true, seems also an
impossibility, that death came on the first day, after only
week, or a year, to the children she commemorates in her poem.