Wisława Szymborska in 1996

A few quotes from Wisława Szymborska’s 1996 Nobel lecture, The Poet and the World:

“All imperfection is easier to tolerate in small doses.”

“In our clamorous times it’s much easier to acknowledge your faults, at least if they’re attractively packaged, than to recognize your own merits, since these are hidden deeper and you never quite believe in them yourself…”

“Inspiration is not the exclusive privilege of poets or artists generally. There is, has been and always will be a certain group of people whom inspiration visits. It’s made up of all those who’ve consciously chosen their calling and do their job with love and imagination. It may include doctors, teachers, gardeners – and I could list a hundred more professions. Their work becomes one continuous adventure as long as they manage to keep discovering new challenges in it. Difficulties and setbacks never quell their curiosity. A swam of new questions emerges from every problem they solve. Whatever inspiration is, it’s born from a continuous ‘I don’t know.’

There aren’t many such people. Most of the earth’s inhabitants work to get by. They work because they have to. They didn’t pick this or that kind of job out of passion; the circumstances of their lives did the choosing for them. Loveless work, boring work, work valued only because others haven’t got even that much, however loveless and boring – this is one of the harshest human miseries. And there’s no sign that coming dentures will produce any changes for the better as far as this goes…”

— (via Nobel Lectures, 1986-2006)

Related: Wisława Szymborska on knowing