Poet's Choice

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By Robert Pinsky
Sunday, July 29, 2007

In the news, reports have appeared of a perhaps mythical, possibly one-eyed, furry creature: the Mapinguary. Whether the man-eating creature, said to resemble a giant sloth, exists or not, it reveals something about the human need to imagine a being profoundly other than ourselves that yet somehow reflects (or consumes) US. Here is a poem by Wislawa Szymborska, translated from the Polish by Stanislaw Baranczak and Clare Cavanagh:

NOTES FROM A NONEXISTENT HIMALAYAN EXPEDITION

So these are the Himalayas.

Mountains racing to the moon.

The moment of their start recorded

on the startling, ripped canvas of the sky.

Holes punched in a desert of clouds.

Thrust into nothing.

Echo--a white mute.

Quiet.

Yeti, down there we've got Wednesday,

bread and alphabets.

Two times two is four.


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© 2007 The Washington Post Company

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