Polish Nobel winning poet Szymborska dies at 88

Reuters and Ahram Online, Thursday 2 Feb 2012

Wislawa Szymborska, once described as the "Mozart of Poetry," died Wednesday after suffering from lung cancer. She was 88. Her works are translated into many languages, including Arabic.

Wislawa Szymborska
Photo: Reuters

"She died quietly, in her sleep," Michal Rusinek, assistant to late poet Wislawa Szymborska who died Wednesday, was quoted as saying by the state news agency PAP.

The shy poet became a reluctant celebrity when she became the fourth Pole to win the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1996.

Vaclav Havel, the playwright and former president of Czechoslovakia, once called Szymborska "such a pleasant, decent and modest lady."

Szymborska, also a literary critic and a translator of French poetry, published several slim volumes after Stalinist censorship was lifted in 1957. She disowned earlier poems that reflected Stalinist era literary style and content.

Her work include Calling out to the Yeti (1957), in which she compared Soviet leader Joseph Stalin to the abominable snowman, People on the Bridge" (1986) and The End and the Beginning written in 1993.

Her poetry was known for its use of fables, anecdotes and extended metaphors, often peppered with irony and bitter humour. Asked once why she published fewer than 350 poems, Szymborska replied: "I have a trash can in my home."

Last year, 

Szymborska was awarded Poland's highest civilian honour, the Order of the White Eagle, by President Bronislaw Komorowski.

Szymborska's poetry was translated to many European languages as well as Arabic, Hebrew, Chinese and Japanese.

Arabic translations by Professor Hanaa Abd El-Fattah were first published by the Supreme Council of Culture in Cairo in 1996. Another expanded publication of Szymborska's poetry by the same translator is planned for release this month.

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