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An oral commentary on The End and The Beginning by Wislawa Szymborska, with an analysis of the poet(TM)s impulse in writing the poem.

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An oral commentary on "The End and The Beginning" by Wislawa Szymborska, with an analysis of the poet's impulse in writing the poem. As we have discovered over the past year, literature serves not only as entertainment or as a source of income, but also as a form of self expression. In the context of social history, literary works have sometimes opened new worlds, challenged ideas and answered questions. Whether it be Candide by Voltaire, Slaughterhouse 5 by Kurt Vonnegut or quite simply "A nice cup of tea" by George Orwell, pieces of literature often express a point of view that opens minds to an idea or perception. This is evident in the poetry of Wislawa Szymborska. In many of her works, Szymborska addresses issues pertaining to war, questions the notion of existence or reprimands human rationality. Examples such as Still, a poem about Jews being carried to concentration camps, can be found throughout her career as a poet, even during the period of Socialist Realism. In this oral expose, I will provide a commentary of one of Szymborska's poems, "The End and The Beginning", while attempting to examine the poet's impulse or reasons for writing the poem. ...read more.


The proceedings stanzas show that once rebuilding begins, there is much to do, -- walls to prop up, glass to put back, doors to be hinged. Since "all the cameras have gone to other wars" we are forced to question ourselves: Is it really the act of destruction that interests us? Rebuilding, as the poem says, "takes years" yet "no sound bites", "no photos" are taken. The next stanza continues in this light, outlining the bridges that need to be rebuilt, the railroad stations too. Metaphorical sleeves must be rolled up and with "brooms in hand," there is a lot of work to be done. Szymborska makes the observation that those who have been through this ordeal understand: "Someone else listens, still remembering how it was, nodding his unshattered head." On the other hand, even at this early point in the process of reconstruction, there are those, nearby, who will need persuasion. In other words, for anyone who was not at the scene of the destruction, who did not see and feel the reverberations of the bombs, the carnage and the destruction and the suffering, chooses not to believe. ...read more.


Her belief in the power of words is a key factor in understanding Szymborska's impulse behind writing "The End and The Beginning". The poem is evocative of all the times when the memory of war has grown dim, when war and soldiering takes on a glory about it that it certainly does not deserve. We, like the person in the last stanza, eventually lie there on the new grass that covers the once-scarred battlefield, dreaming of being a hero. By writing down as a poem, however, Szymborska ensures that we cannot forget the destruction that war entails. This poem can serve as a memory of the forgotten scars; for those who know nothing, it depicts the destructive effects of the end on the beginning. In effect, Wislawa Szymborska's "The End and The Beginning" is a sad and poignant commentary on the intelligence of going to war with one another. She shows us that for life to go on after war, somebody has the thankless job of sorting through the debris and building a new life. Like other poems of hers, such as "Reality Demands", this poem opens our minds to the idea that war is seemingly pointless, cyclical and destructive. ...read more.

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