My rating: 3 stars
Instante (Moment) by Wislawa Szymborska was the book I chose to represent Poland at the ‘EU still 28’ reading project. I believe this was my first time reading a poetry collection which was not originally written in Portuguese but translated into it. So, I’m not entirely certain if my misgivings in relation to some of these poems are due to the translation or to Szymborska’s writing style.
Being faithful to the title of the collection, various poems seem to have been inspired by moments and snippets from people’s lives. These moments, conveyed through a rather direct style, are comprised of both casual daily life occurrences and highly significant events. For example, ‘Fotografia de 11 de Setembro’ (‘Photograph from September 11’) focuses on the moment when people started to jump from the towers of the World Trade Centre complex following the terrorist attack in 2001.
Time is another recurring element in this collection. ‘As Três Palavras Mais Estranhas’ (‘The Three Oddest Words’) uses the word ‘future’ to demonstrate how time is inescapably brief. After all, before we finish saying ‘future’, the first syllable is already in the past.
My favourite poem, however, was the first one, which gives the collection its title. ‘Instante’ (‘Moment’) uses natural elements to convey a change in feelings, from conflict and darkness to stillness and calm. Although we hope that the stage of tranquillity can linger on, it may only last for a moment.
The majority of the twelve poems featured in this collection were written in a rather straightforward style which didn’t make me revel in the words chosen. I finished it without having felt much at all. The poems were not meaningless in any way, some thought-provoking considerations are made. I just didn’t particularly enjoy the lack of rhythm. If this was a problem of the translation or not, I will probably never know.