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Do you reach for the familiar when you need comfort?

What is it that makes you go back to the place of belonging?

What is your place of belonging?  The place that you call home?

No, not the physical place, but the place where you feel at home with yourself.

When I need comfort I reach for a poem.  I let the poem to amuse me, to surprise me, to teach me, to help me understand the other side of reality, the one that escapes me easily when I run to grasp the unknown.

Here is the one for me for today, written by Wislawa Szymborska, a Polish poet who received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1996.


Thank-you note

I owe so much

to those I don’t love.


The relief as I agree

that someone else needs them more.


The happiness that I’m not

the wolf to their sheep.

The peace I feel with them,

the freedom —

love can neither give

nor take that.

I don’t wait for them,

as in window-to-door-and-back.

Almost as patient

as a sundial,

I understand

what love can’t,

and forgive

as love never would.

From a rendezvous to a letter

is just a few days or weeks,

not an eternity.


Trips with them always go smoothly,

concerts are heard,

cathedrals visited,

scenery is seen.


And when seven hills and rivers

come between us,

the hills and rivers

can be found on any map.


They deserve the credit

if I live in three dimensions,

in nonlyrical and nonrhetorical space

with a genuine, shifting horizon.


They themselves don’t realize

how much they hold in their empty hands.


“I don’t owe them a thing,”

would be love’s answer

to this open question.

9 Responses to “Thank you note to those I don’t love”

  1. slpmartin says:

    What a wonderful poem to share…just loved it.

    • danutahinc says:

      I hope to share more … I am currently reading her poems. They are like a well of wisdom to me.

      Glad to hear you liked it, too.

  2. Bell Noor says:

    “The happiness that I’m not the wolf to their sheep.” I just could not have comparison to this thinking but I so relate to it …very cleverly gathered …very what about; “They themselves don’t realize how much they hold in their empty hands.” I love it, so love it, takes me away to the “other side of reality, the one that escapes” , thanks

  3. danutahinc says:

    Thank you, Bell!
    I am so happy your comment is here!!!
    I accidentally deleted my post on facebook.

  4. Heather says:

    This really spoke to me, Danuta. I understand exactly what the author is talking about. How it’s easier to be forgiving and understanding when you are not as close to some one. The friendships are easier, even though they are not really as meaningful as those that you love.

  5. danutahinc says:

    Yes, Heather,

    and the author made me think of all the “outside” people I have never thought about before.

    Isn’t it strange and not strange at the same time? We think of the ones we love and we don’t think of the ones we don’t love.

    Gratitude for all comes to mind, I suppose.

  6. My guess is that she was wronged by someone she loves deeply and sat down and wrote this poem.
    Very moving.

  7. Danuta says:

    or she observed someone else …

    Thank you for your comment, Robert!

    P.S. Do you speak Polish?

  8. I spoke some Polish when I was little because I spent a couple of years raised by my uncles in Conn.
    In the village they lived in there were many who had come to the U.S. from Poland so they liked to talk Polish to the kids.
    Of course I’ve forgotten it all.
    I regret that I never talked with my grandfather about what it must have been like coming to to America as a young man!
    Would love to visit Krasnopol Poland some day but not sure if I’ll make it.