A Polish poet has just died. She was the 88-year-old Wislawa Szymborska. Her obit in the NY Times notes the following:
Ms. Szymborska began writing in the Socialist Realist style. The first collection of what some have called her Stalinist period, “That’s What We Live For,” appeared in 1952, followed two years later by another ideological collection, “Questions Put to Myself.”
Years later she told the poet and critic Edward Hirsch: “When I was young I had a moment of believing in the Communist doctrine. I wanted to save the world through Communism. Quite soon I understood that it doesn’t work, but I’ve never pretended it didn’t happen to me.
“At the very beginning of my creative life I loved humanity. I wanted to do something good for mankind. Soon I understood that it isn’t possible to save mankind.”
By 1957, she had renounced both Communism and her early poetry.
I never knew the poet, or to my knowledge even heard of her before today. I do not know how much further she went with her understanding of the limits of humankind, but find it interesting that she apparently discovered a key truth–one which our current President and his men (and women) seem to be lacking.
It is not possible for humans to save humankind.
Thank you, Ms. Szymborska. May you rest in peace.