Sunday, April 20, 2008


In Wislawa Szyborska’s poem, “Pieta,” the author makes reference to the famous sculpture, the Pieta, created by Michelangelo in late fifteenth century. The sculpture portrays the Virgin Mary holding the crucified Jesus in her arms and weeping. In the poem, the monument described early in the first stanza is a pieta, but, instead of Mary and Jesus as the subject, it shows a mother grieving for her son. Wislawa Szyborska writes, “In the town where the hero was born you may: gaze at the monument… ask for his mother’s address (Szyborska).” From this description, we can recognize that the mother’s son was a hero, and most likely a martyr for a certain cause (though the cause is never revealed). Wislawa Szyborska continues, writing, “Yes she was standing at the prison wall that morning. Yes, she heard the shots (Szyborska).” Like Mary at the crucifixion of Jesus, the mother in this poem witnessed (or at least heard) the death of her son. From the authors tone and description of the events, we get the impression that the woman’s son was the victim of political violence and was killed by an oppressive regime. Alluding to the hero status the woman’s son has attained, the poem ends with Wislawa Szyborska writing, “You may get up. Thank her. Say goodbye. Leave, passing by the new arrivals in the hall (Szyborska).”

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