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On the surface, Szymborskas poem (translated from Polish by Joanna

Trzeciak), The End and the Beginning is a poem about war and its aftermath,
but it is also a reflection of life with many messages hidden beneath it. The title
The End and the Beginning makes us think of how beginning and end are very
closely related- an end could be the beginning of something new. Because the
two words juxtapose, we can say that the title takes a neutral stand. A striking
feature of this free-verse poem is the persona, who even though present
throughout the entire poem, is distant. This is shown through the frequent use of
pronoun someone as though she is speaking on behalf of other victims of the
war. Structurally, the poem consists of 10 stanzas- each harbouring between 4-6
relatively short lines. This evokes the idea of how wars may happen within a
short period of time, but the traumatic memories last almost forever.

The main idea explored is the idea that although physical fighting of war has
ended, the pain and scars are still left behind. The use of a mixture of tenses
throughout the poem suggests that everything- past, present and future- is
connected to one another. Unlike many other poems where Szymborska uses her
favourite device- an abrupt transition from a formal tone to a colloquial one- this
poem does not feature any. The overall choice of diction- consistently formal
without humour or entertainment- by the poet conveys a serious nature. This
ensures the direct attention and focus from the readers.

Right from the beginning stanza: After every war, someone has to clean up, a
sense of relatability between the readers, as well as an ironic tone, have already
been developed. The poets use of the word every brings in the assumption that
all wars are more or less the same- it does not matter if you win or lose the war,
the consequences are the same. Things wont straighten themselves, after all
implies how someone has to take initiative and attempt to set things right
because they cannot get better on their own.

The way the poet chose to enumerate all tasks that have to be completed one
after another, after the repetitive use of someone, illustrates the enormity of
consequences of war- people having to push the rubble, prop up the wall,
glaze a window, rehang a door, etc. These tasks are not simple- they embody
a high level of difficulty and require time and effort. Because these are all
involved with rebuilding houses, a house being a shelter therefore symbolises
the idea of life, we may say that healing both physical and emotional pain needs
time and no matter what, things redone are not the same or as good as new.

In the fifth stanza, the poet makes use of inversion photogenic its not which
creates an impression of how wars brought chaos and disorder. The process of

rebuilding is not something we can just simply take a picture of. The
personification All the cameras have left for another war suggests just like
media has gone to focus on other news or war, people who are not affected
directly by the impacts of war have moved on.

Eighth stanza features an alliteration: sometimes someone still unearths which


creates an emphasis on the silence that brings tension and frustration. The
phrase rusted-out arguments shows dissolving arguments- no longer intense
ones but still exist as undesirable argument. Political disputes between people
who are in power bring burden to innocent people who seek for peace, people
who are not even related to the issues-letting them bear the weight and
responsibility (carries them to the garbage pile) and suffer from the
consequences and aftermath of war.
Whereas stanza seven denotes how people are starting to lose interest in the
importance of war as time passes by- connection fading away: But already there
are those nearby starting to mill about who will find it dull, stanza nine
emphasizes on how important it is for people who experienced the disaster to be
remembered: those who knew what was going on here must make way for those
who know little. Messages to the next generations must be passed on- wars, at
best, shall be avoided.

The poets use of negative diction such as rubble, corpse-filled wagons,


splintered glass, bloody rags, garbage piles throughout the poem portrays
the ugliness and hideous sight of aftermath of war. Furthermore, these help to
establish the melancholic and dark tone of the poem.
The final lines of the poem where someone must be stretched out, blade of
grass in his mouth, gazing at the clouds makes use of imagery- as well as
metaphor blade of grass in his mouth along with clouds that symbolises
freedom and dream. This suggests the hope of people for a new beginningbeginning of peace. This stanza concludes that life goes on.
Moreover, the poets deliberate repetition of someone from beginning to the
end shows that anyone can be involved in building a better life, a better world.