Wisława Szymborska

Idea

An idea came to me
for a little poem? a poem?
That’s good—I say—stay, let us talk.
You have to tell me more about yourself.
              To which it whispers a few words in my ear.
Oh, that—I say—that is interesting.
These matters have long been at my heart.
But to write a poem about them? No, certainly not.
              To which it whispers a few words in my ear.
It only seems to you—I reply—
you overestimate my strength and my gifts.
I wouldn’t even know where to start.
              To which it whispers a few words in my ear.
You are mistaken—I say—a short, concise poem
is much harder to write than one that is long.
Don’t torment me, don’t insist, for it won’t work.
              To which it whispers a few words in my ear.
Well, okay, I will try, since you’re so stubborn.
But  I must warn you what the outcome will be.
I will write, rip it up and throw it out.
              To which it whispers a few words in my ear.
You are right—I say—there are still other poets.
Some of them will do this better than me.
I can give you the names, the addresses.
              To which it whispers a few words in my ear.
Yes, certainly, I will be jealous of them.
We’re jealous of each other’s poems, even when they’re weak.
And this one probably should . . . perhaps it must have. . .
              To which it whispers a few words in my ear.
That’s right, it must have the features that you named.
And so let's change the subject.
Would you like some coffee?

            To which it only sighed.

            And started to disappear.

            And disappeared.