at the fair

A crucial, subtle, decisive work of art enters us and attains us as effortlessly as a night dream involves us in irresistible fascinations.

For me, poetry is at its best as a reaction to the mystery of phenomena, the eyes of others, the dreams of memory, and the implausible fact of being.

–Tim Buck

It has been a while since we’ve posted here on Spectral Lyre. In the meantime, like many a patient Mother, Earth has maintained her steady, giddy spin.

Reality demands
that we also mention this:
Life goes on.

–Wisława Szymborska


The editors of Spectral Lyre had previously made a tacit pact not to post our own work on this blog. But what are rules made for, if not to be broken? This poem of Tim Buck’s, haunted by the Polish poet, Szymborska, made its quiet debut in 2012 in his collection, Southern Weather.  


at the fair with Szymborska


Wislawa Szymborska

Wislawa Szymborska

Special occasions like the fair
in September when I was young
always made me feel very odd.

Cotton candy and whirling rides
and those unusual fair people…
I wanted to leave before arriving.

Who could possibly not see the exaggeration
of what is already uncanny on its own merits? —

simply time rattling through a haunted tunnel.

Szymborska’s spirit must have held my hand
in September when I was young and looking.

Surely her spirit must have squeezed my hand –
“Just breathe, little one, it won’t last forever.
Try your best to smile for your sweet mother.”

A spirit can go backwards or sideways
as a voice not forsaking me in my vertigo,
as a voice confirming that nothing is ordinary:

A miracle without a cape and top hat:
scattering white doves.*

–Tim Buck

  • from the poem “Miracle Fair” by Wisława Szymborska (1923 – 2012), translation by Joanna Trzeciak

The full text of the translation of “Miracle Fair” appears in this Spectral Lyre post: Poetry After Plotinus.


Posted by Jillian Parker


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