“View with a Grain of Sand” is a poem of thirty-seven lines grouped into seven stanzas that range from four to seven lines each. In both Polish and English, the poem exhibits occasional irregular rhymes, although these are not the same lines in both versions. (For example, the fourth stanza rhymes the second and fourth lines in Polish and the first and second line in English.) Like much of Wisawa Szymborska’s poetry, the language in “View with a Grain of Sand” sounds like everyday conversation, differing from prose or ordinary speech only in very subtle rhythms and patterns of sound.
The speaker of the poem may be Szymborska herself, although such an identification does not affect the meaning conveyed or the impression formed by the poem. This speaker pictures a lake and its surroundings, beginning with a grain of sand from the shore. She mentions that the sand is complete in and of itself and that it is not affected by people touching it, talking about it, or dropping it on a windowsill; these things pertain solely to human experience. The speaker then considers the window that overlooks the lake but that has nothing to do with the lake itself except in human perception. The poem reminds its readers that the “wonderful view” exists only in the individual mind, as do colors, sounds, odors, and, most strikingly, pain. Szymborska’s speaker goes on to say essentially the same thing about the lake, that it knows nothing of the attributes people...
(The entire section is 557 words.)