Wislawa Szymborska, winner of the 1996 Nobel Prize in Literature, died of lung cancer on Wednesday in Krakow, Poland. She was 88.
Szymborska was only the fifth Polish or Polish-born writer to receive the Nobel Prize since 1901, according to NobelPrize.org. Szymborska was called by the Nobel committee the Mozart of poetry but with something of the fury of Beethoven, reported The Guardian.
Poland's President Bronislaw Komorowski eulogized Szymborska with statements made on Wednesday, reported the Guardian. He said she was the guardian spirit of the country. He observed that her poems offered great advice to all those who read them, through which the world became more understandable.
Szymborska was born in the small Polish village of Bnin in 1923. She moved to Krakow eight years later, where she remained until her death. She was well educated, studying philology and sociology at Krakow's city university. She published her first poem in 1945, entitled Szukam Slowa, or, in English, I am Looking for a Word. It was picked up by a local daily called Dziennick Polski, reported The Guardian.
In 1952, she published her fist collection of poems called That's What We Live For, while living under Poland's communist government. Her collection was seen an expression of the positives socialism offer. However, he renounced her first two books later in life. In her later writings, she mocked communism.
Still, she insisted that her poems were never political.
Of course, life crosses politics, she said in an interview with The New York Times. But my poems are strictly not political. They are more about people and life.
As she got older, Szymborska stayed away from the public light, despite her popularity. She didn't like the attention and was quoted as saying there's simply too much fuss about myself.
She had published 200 works when she received the Nobel Prize in 1996, which less than most winners. The committee had lauded her poetry saying, that with ironic precision allows the historical and biological context to come to light in fragments of human reality.
Dr. Clare Cavangh, a professor of literature at Northwestern University, translated much of Szymobrska's works.
Her poetry looks at things from an angle you would never think of looking at for yourself in a million years, Cavanagh said, according to the New York Times.
One Szymborska's most famous poems were Cat in An Empty Apartment, that describes death from the point of view of the person's cat, said Cavanagh.
The New York Times reprinted the poem, which is here:
Die - You can't do that to a cat.
Since what can a cat do
in an empty apartment?
Climb the walls?
Rub up against the furniture?
Nothing seems different here,
but nothing is the same.
Nothing has been moved,
but there's more space.
And at nighttime no lamps are lit.
Footsteps on the staircase,
but they're new ones.
The hand that puts fish on the saucer
has changed, too.
Something doesn't start
at its usual time.
Something doesn't happen
as it should. Someone was always, always here,
then suddenly disappeared
and stubbornly stays disappeared.